Arsene Wenger was set to face arguably the biggest test of his managerial career today when he met with Cesc Fabregas for the first time, since the Spaniard was thought to have told the Arsenal manager he had his heart set on a return to Barcelona.
Fabregas has been at the centre of a summer-long tug of war between Arsenal and the club with whom he started his career as a youngster.
Barca have not made any further moves for the midfielder since having a £30m bid rejected in June, shortly after Fabregas is understood to have met Wenger to express his desire to leave.
The Catalan giants' very public attempt at wooing the 23-year-old, has ensured the story has rumbled on all summer despite Arsenal insisting Fabregas is not for sale at any price.
Wenger was hoping to put all that speculation to bed when he was reunited with his skipper at the Gunners' members' media day at the Emirates Stadium this morning.
Fabregas fuelled rumours he was set to renew his request to leave when he told 2,500 Barcelona fans in his Catalan hometown he hoped to "see you more often" earlier this week.
It remains unclear whether Barca would be willing to up their bid for Fabregas, who has made it clear he owes Wenger a lot for moulding him into one of the best players in the Premier League.
Despite all the confusion, one thing is clear -- losing Fabregas would be a big loss to Arsenal.
Thomas Vermaelen, who joined the club from Ajax last season, acknowledges Fabregas is a vital part of the team. "He is important to us because he is a very good player," said Vermaelen. "I hope he will stay."
Fellow defender Bacary Sagna added: "They can talk as much as they want but he is our player. I think it would be a big loss if he were to leave."