Iniesta expects Fabregas to stay put

Spanish champions Barcelona may have to admit defeat in their pursuit of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas as he has opted to remain in England for one more year, according to mercurial Barca ace Andres Iniesta.

Iniesta, who scored the winning goal as Spain beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final earlier this month, claims the Arsenal captain has spoken of a special bond between him and the clubs supporters and that he wants to have one more crack at the Premier League.

GEAR: Get a Barca shirt

"Cesc wants to be with us, but he told me how close the Arsenal fans are to his heart," Iniesta told reporters.

"He is a special player and I hope he wins the title at Arsenal this season. For them to win Cesc will have to stay fit and injury-free, but he deserves to finish with a title. For all the work and effort he has put in at Arsenal it would be a shame if it was all fruitless.

"I have seen time after time Lionel Messi win games for Barcelona when the rest of the team have not been on form and Cesc can do that for Arsenal this season."

The Arsenal skipper is reported to have agreed personal terms on a contract worth £7-million a season at the Nou Camp and has been pictured in a Barca shirt during the Spanish World Cup celebrations, fuelling speculation of an imminent return to Spain.

But the Catalan giants have been reluctant to part with the £50-million Arsenal are thought want for the 23-year-old, who has spent seven seasons in England after leaving Barca's youth system as a teenager.

The Gunners talisman is due to return to North London later on this week for showdown talks with boss Arsene Wenger and Iniesta knows that Fabregas will return to Catalonia in 12-months time, hopefully with a Premiership winners medal.

"Cesc is such a special player that he could carry a team to the title on his own and I hope he does it this coming season," Iniesta continued.

"It would be brilliant if Arsenal's hero could lift the title as captain during his last season [at Emirates Stadium]."

By James Martini

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