Gunners come out fighting with unusually blunt, public retort to Barcelona offer for captain
ARSENAL hope to have driven the final nail into Barcelona’s pursuit of Cesc Fabregas after rejecting a £30m bid for their captain and issuing a strongly-worded statement ruling out his sale.
Barca stepped up their campaign to prise their former youth player away from north London yesterday by announcing that they had lodged an opening offer for the Spain midfielder.
But the Gunners acted quickly to snuff out the move, breaking with their long-standing policy of not commenting on transfer negotiations to confirm they had rebuffed the Catalan club’s proposal.
And to leave Barcelona and the unsettled Fabregas in no doubt of their determination to keep the 23-year-old, Arsenal added they had “no intention” of letting him leave and ruled out entering into further negotiations.
“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,” read the statement.
“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.”
Fabregas had seemed likely to leave Arsenal this summer after telling manager Arsene Wenger he wanted to return to his boyhood club. It was widely assumed to be a matter of when, not if, he rejoined the team he left as a 16-year-old.
The Gunners were always unwilling sellers, however, and were said to value him at £80m – the current world record fee – but have now adopted an even harder line.
The bluntness of yesterday’s statement suggests Arsenal have become frustrated with Barca’s public attempts to unsettle their player; enough at least to disregard their usual secrecy regarding contracts and declare that Fabregas is tied to the club until 2015.
The Gunners also always refrain from commenting on transfer speculation, but were sufficiently moved to draw up a bold retort after the latest murmurings from Spain. Hours earlier Barcelona revealed via Twitter they had submitted a written bid for Fabregas, with director Joan Oliver saying: “We have opened a formal process of negotiation with them.”
Barcelona and Real Madrid are infamous for making flattering public statements about their targets; a move that can unsettle players and soften up their clubs for a bid.
But Arsenal’s closing remarks – about respect and “keeping their word” – appear a clear warning to Barca to refrain from further attempts to entice Fabregas through unofficial channels.
“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."