Manchester United concede defeat in Cesc Fabregas pursuit


Manchester United have diplomatically declared that they would "respect" Cesc Fabregas's comments about wanting to stay at Barcelona – a graceful departure from the arena that appears to keep their options open for the future.

The 26-year-old midfielder said it "never went through my head not to continue here" and that he had a "clean conscience" about not having "cheated anyone" by courting other clubs this summer.

United certainly felt they had a chance of signing Fabregas, however, and would not have publicly confirmed bids had his camp not made them feel there was a possibility of success. The view from Old Trafford was that Neymar's arrival, nudging Fabregas down the pecking order, created an opportunity.

Fabregas has benefited from the profile United's interest delivered. At a time when he harboured insecurity about his position at the club, his image has been enhanced by an elite side's interest, with coaches at the Nou Camp as well as president Sandro Rosell publicly stating their desire that he would stay. The United speculation has forced them to do that. The most significant comment of the summer came when Fabregas declared that, while he wanted to stay, "if the club think otherwise then it would change things".