Fabregas in Barca hint
IF CESC fabregas is trying to break it to Arsenal fans gently that he wants to leave this summer, then yesterday's declaration that his next club will definitely be Barcelona can be seen as another big step on the road back to Spain, WRITES PETE JENSON.
For the first time since joining Arsenal in 2003 he publicly admitted that when he leaves it will be to return to the Nou Camp and he then gave a somewhat mixed message that he is happy at the Emirates but wants his future sorted out before the World Cup.
Fabregas was asked: "If you leave Arsenal, will it be for Barcelona?" He replied: "Yes." Asked to reaffirm that it would "only" be to join Barca, he added: "Yes, definitely yes."
With Barcelona due to elect a new president on June 14 the attempts to sign Fabregas are coming from two different directions. Outgoing president Joan Laporta wants to sign-off by repatriating the prodigal son and the clear favourite to be the new president, Sandro Rosell, would like to start his term of office with the same signing.
In light of these two suitors, off the back of another trophyless year at Arsenal, and with the sense that he can mark the dawning of a new era at Barcelona, Fabregas appears more tempted than ever.
"You see your team-mates succeeding here (in Barcelona) and it is exciting because you have worked alongside them for so long. I think I would like to go to Barcelona, whether or not they want me is another thing. I don't know when it will happen. I am happy at Arsenal and I am not in a rush to leave. Before I leave for the World Cup I want my future sorted out because it benefits nobody if I go into the tournament with something else on my mind."
"None of the (presidential) candidates have put themselves in contact with me so I do not feel like a pawn in the election," the playmaker added.
Arsenal are increasingly resigned to losing William Gallas on a free transfer this summer, but expect Sol Campbell to agree a new one-year contract. The club have told Gallas that they cannot compromise on what they deem to be extravagant wage demands and will give their him until the end of the month to decide his future. Arsenal are reluctant to offer him more than a one-year deal.