Fabregas admits thwarted Barça move still plays on his mind

Arsenal captain insists side must rediscover 'winning mentality' after suffering successive League defeats
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The Independent Football

Cesc Fabregas might have failed in his desire to return to Barcelona in the summer but the Arsenal midfielder has said that he is still preoccupied with a move to the Nou Camp while also urging his under-performing team-mates to rediscover their "winning mentality".

Arsenal rejected a £35m offer for Fabregas from Barcelona in the summer and though the Spanish midfielder understands why manager Arsène Wenger rejected the proposed transfer, the attraction of his former club remains strong.

"I maintain that I was right [to seek a move] because [to play for Barcelona] is a dream I have had since childhood," Fabregas said. "The truth is that the coach [Wenger] is like a second father to me. I told him what I thought. There were difficult moments. In the end, when I spoke to Wenger he told me 'no' – he was very emphatic, that the transfer was impossible."

Fabregas, who joined Arsenal as a 16 year old in 2003, added: "I am satisfied for all parties. It wasn't to be and that's that, though in my head I keep thinking it could have been a good opportunity. But here [at Arsenal] I have everything. I am still happy. I am very comfortable here, I like the club, lead the team, play football. We just need to start winning titles because we have a wealth of quality. A winning mentality is missing."

The Spaniard is "unlikely to be involved", according to Wenger, for the visit of Birmingham City to the Emirates tomorrow. Fabregas is likely to need more time to recover from a hamstring problem, despite declaring himself fit during the international break.

But Arsenal could have both Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner back to bolster their attack. Wenger revealed both players could return to the squad as Arsenal aim to halt a run of successive defeats in the Premier League which has left them seven points behind the leaders Chelsea.

Walcott has been sidelined since suffering ankle ligament damage when playing for England in Switzerland on 7 September, while Bendtner has not featured at all this season because of a groin problem. England left-back Kieran Gibbs is also available after his calf injury.

"We have some good news because for a while we have had only bad news," Wenger said. "Nicklas Bendtner is back in the squad and Kieran Gibbs is back too. Let's not forget that since last November Nicklas has produced here and there, but never had a consistent presence because of his injuries."

Wenger continued: "Theo might be involved on Saturday as well. He has normal training tomorrow. I might put him in the squad. I will see how he is, but he looks very, very sharp. The only uncertainty is his ankle, but he might be involved.

"Cesc is very, very short and unlikely to be involved [on Saturday]. He has a little chance for Tuesday [in the Champions League at home to Shakhtar Donetsk]."

Despite the positive news on Bendtner and Walcott, Arsenal did lose right-back Bacary Sagna to a thigh problem picked up while away with France. Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) has, along with Robin van Persie, not featured since before the last international break, and remains in rehabilitation, as does the goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who suffered an elbow injury in the 3-2 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion last month. "Sagna is 10 days, Vermaelen is 10 days, Almunia is a question of days, but Van Persie looks to be a bit longer," Wenger said.