Arsenal spurn Barça's offer of £33m for Fabregas

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Arsenal rejected a £33m bid from Barcelona for Cesc Fabregas yesterday and have firmly told the Catalan club that he is not for sale.

Barcelona finally tabled a written bid and had planned to parade their new signing to supporters at the Nou Camp tomorrow, taking advantage of one of two remaining free days the player has before he goes to the World Cup finals with the Spain squad. But Arsenal made it clear they rate the midfielder as highly as Manchester Untied valued Cristiano Ronaldo last summer and flatly refused to do business.

Fabregas will make his comeback from injury tonight in a friendly against South Korea before he returns from Spain's World Cup training camp in Austria. Barcelona have identified Fabregas as their main summer target but their advances were rejected in the strongest terms possible.

An Arsenal statement read: "We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment.

"However, on Tuesday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.

"To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."

Time will tell whether the posture can be sustained throughout the summer or if Barça can move closer to the £80m price tag Arsenal have put on Fabregas. If chief executive Ivan Gazidis had wanted to avoid appearing weak in what could be his first big sale since taking over in 2009, he achieved it with this strongly-worded rejection.

Hanging onto their captain after he has stated his desire to leave the club still looks an unsustainable position to adopt and Fabregas himself has hinted strongly that his manager and mentor Arsène Wenger will eventually relent and let him leave. But his original request to have his future sorted out before the World Cup now looks unlikely to be met.

For any negotiations to reach a positive conclusion for Fabregas before the World Cup there would have to be major movement on both sides before next Wednesday when Spain play their last warm-up friendly against Poland in Murcia. Fabregas will have the following day free and the Barcelona president Joan Laporta has long seen that date as his last chance to land the club's former youth team star before he leaves office. Spain fly to South Africa the following day.

Despite Arsenal's reaction to Barça's first formal bid the Spanish champions are still confident of landing the player and believe the World Cup will not hinder their attempts. Such is Fabregas's desire to move to the Nou Camp, sources close to the club say personal terms have already been agreed and the massive gap between Arsenal's valuation and Barça's first bid is what needs to be bridged.

Midfielder Yaya Touré remains the key to that happening, with Laporta admitting earlier in the week that the midfielder's departure is imminent. Moving out last summer's big signing Zlaten Ibrahimovic could also release funds. The striker's position has become increasingly untenable at Barcelona after his agent Mino Raiola said of Barça coach Pep Guardiola: "If you don't play a footballer after spending €65m, then you should be sent to a mental hospital. English football may be an option for him."

Arsenal's statement

"Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is under contract with the Club until the summer of 2015. He is a highly valued member of the team and part of our future plans.

"We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment. However, yesterday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.

"To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."

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