Fabregas commits to Arsenal but leaves door open for Barça return

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The Independent Football

Cesc Fabregas yesterday pledged his commitment for the upcoming season to Arsenal, ending Barcelona's hopes of signing him for a year at least.

The 23-year-old Arsenal captain revealed that the north London club have turned down two bids from the Spanish champions this summer, and he now accepts that he will be staying at the Emirates for the time being.

Fabregas's statement comes a day after he rejoined his team-mates for a photoshoot and public training session in front of 10,000 Arsenal fans at the Emirates. The supporters had all chanted his name and although his response came a day later, they will be ecstatic that their captain has re- stated his commitment to the club.

Barcelona had been willing to go as high as £37.5m for Fabregas, who has five years remaining on his recently-signed Arsenal contract, but it was nowhere near enough for Arsène Wenger and the board, who value their star player at upwards of £50m.

Yesterday's statement from Fabregas fell way short of totally ending talk of a move to Barcelona, as at no point did he state he does not want to move to the club where he started his career.

However, in an imperfect world, it will have to do, and at least puts to an end the constant speculation surrounding the player's short-term future. Barcelona are sure to come knocking again next May but should Arsenal by then be the new Premier League champions, or even the winners of the Champions League, then the whole dynamic of the situation would have changed.

As it is, Fabregas remains an Arsenal player, albeit somewhat reluctantly, as he made clear in his statement released on the club's official website.

Fabregas said: "Firstly I would like to apologise to all the Arsenal fans for not speaking sooner about my future but I have not known what I was going to do until this moment. I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me. This was the club where I learnt my football, it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.

"There are not many players in this world who would not want to play for Barcelona. I have had many conversations with Arsène Wenger both in person and over the phone over the last few months and although the content of those conversations will remain private, the conclusion is that Barcelona have had two formal offers rejected by Arsenal.

"I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me. I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.

"I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100 per cent focused on playing for Arsenal.

"I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch, that is the only club I will be thinking about. I am looking forward to the start of the season and putting this speculation behind me."

Arsenal were keen for Fabregas to make the pledge before he heads off next week for international duty with World Cup winners Spain, who play Mexico in the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Wednesday. They demanded an end to the mixed messages that Fabregas had been putting out, such as when he dedicated Spain's World Cup victory to the staff at Arsenal but was then pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt. Only last week he told a crowd of 2,500 Barça fans in his home town that he hoped to "see them more often".

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