Fabregas unsure over Arsenal future

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger continued to deflect Barcelona's interest in his Spanish skipper Cesc Fabregas by urging him to stay at the club on Friday and help them win the Premier League title in the coming season.

"There is a good attitude in the squad and Cesc Fabregas can help us to achieve our targets," Wenger told a news conference ahead of this weekend's pre-season four-team Emirates Cup which they are hosting.

"He is now at an age, 23 and he has just won the World Cup and I believe he will gain in authority again next season - the biggest achievement for him is to help us win the championship.

"I have always said that Cesc Fabregas will be our captain next season and we want to keep him, and despite all the speculation for the whole of last season and this summer nothing has changed."

Fabregas has been courted relentlessly by Barcelona where he was part of the Catalan club's youth programme, and the player admitted on Thursday he was torn between staying at Arsenal and returning to the Nou Camp.

Barcelona made a 29 million pounds bid bid for him last month but Wenger reiterated on Friday that Arsenal were not prepared to negotiate and said he expects Fabregas to remain a Gunner.

He also dismissed the fact that Fabregas was forced to wear a Barca shirt by his celebrating Spanish team mates after their World Cup final victory as nothing more than high jinks.

"It was part of celebrations - you can understand things like that when you are friends, it has nothing to do with his behaviour or his attitude. He has always said he is committed to the club and he has always shown it.

"Look at the length of his contract and there is five or six years to go I think. That means when we sign a contract for a long period we are committed to that player no matter what happens, to pay him and to keep him."

In an interview with Catalan style magazine DIR Emotions published on Thursday, Fabregas said: "I'm a Barca fan, I'm a club member, as is my grandfather, my uncle, my cousin... I have had the colours in my blood from a young age, I'm Catalan.

"However, I'm the captain of Arsenal, I'm a 'Gunner'," he added. "And I have become a player there and matured as a person."

Fabregas joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2003 and has matured at the club, making 267 appearances and scoring 48 goals in all competitions.

Fabregas is due to return to the club after the World Cup on August 5 and will not play in this weekend's tournament which comprises Arsenal, Celtic, AC Milan and Olympique Lyon.

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