Barca urged to arrange Wenger meeting

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The Independent Online

Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart has urged incumbent Sandro Rosell to meet with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger if he wants to sign Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas has been the subject of a summer-long transfer saga, with departed Barca president Joan Laporta and Rosell both left frustrated by the Gunners' resistance to overtures for the Arsenal captain.

Gaspart, who had several dealings with Arsenal and Wenger during his three-year tenure, believes the only way for the matter to be resolved is for Rosell to travel to north London.

He told Com Radio: "My advice, and that's what I've told him (Rosell), is that this will end by catching the plane to London and sitting down face to face with Wenger.

"Not by telephone, not with intermediaries - this has to be resolved with a meeting in person.

"Rosell must not be scared. If he fails, the whole world will understand but no-one will be able to say that he didn't try until the end.

"This fear that he is going to fail - he shouldn't have it.

"It's very difficult for Arsenal to want to keep a player who doesn't want to stay.

"The English are very English, very hard at the time of negotiating. Moreover, Mr Wenger, as a good Frenchman, knows how to play his cards.

"I have seen him in negotiations and he has ended up selling. You have to meet him face to face to know if he is bluffing."

Fabregas, who spent six years in Barca's youth team before joining Arsenal in 2003, has five years remaining on his contract and the Gunners have already turned down a £30million bid from the Catalan club.

The 23-year-old has made no secret of his desire to return to the Nou Camp and much will be read into yesterday's comments at a special ceremony thrown for the Spanish World Cup winner in his hometown of Arenys de Mar, only a few kilometres from Barcelona.

He said: "I hope to see you more often and from closer."

Meanwhile, Gaspart claims Wenger and England boss Fabio Capello were denied the chance to coach Barca in 2001 by their clubs.

Gaspart tried to tempt Wenger to the Nou Camp following the dismissal of Llorenc Serra Ferrer and prior to the permanent appointment of interim coach Carles Rexach.

However, just as they are currently doing with Fabregas, Arsenal stood in their way.

"When I was president, in agreement with Rexach, when Serra Ferrer left we negotiated with Arsene Wenger and Fabio Capello to coach Barca," added Gaspart.

"I met Wenger in Paris. He wanted to come to Barca but Arsenal didn't let him. The Arsenal chairman ordered him to fulfil his contract.

"Capello also wanted to come, but they (Roma) didn't let him either."

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