Friday 20 April 2018

Fabregas admits Arsenal remain close to his heart despite love for Barcelona

Cesc Fabregas admits leaving Arsenal would be a difficult undertaking. Photo: Getty Images
Cesc Fabregas admits leaving Arsenal would be a difficult undertaking. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

Cesc Fabregas has revealed the depth of his torment over a proposed move to Barcelona, describing himself as a "Gunner" and Arsène Wenger as his "second father".

Wenger had a heart-to-heart conversation with his captain shortly before the World Cup at which Fabregas expressed a desire to return to the city of his birth.

Arsenal, though, have since rejected a formal offer of £29.2 million from Barcelona and are now refusing to enter any negotiations with the La Liga champions.

With Barcelona restrained financially amid debts of £368 million, there is an increasing feeling at Arsenal that the battle to keep Fabregas has been won for at least this transfer window.

Fabregas is due to report back for pre-season training at Arsenal next Thursday and is also now resigned to the possibility that he will spend the next year at the Emirates.

“I’m a Barca fan, I’m a socio, as is my grandfather, my uncle, my cousin. I have felt the colours from a young age, I’m Catalan,” said Fabregas.

“However, I’m the captain of Arsenal, I’m a Gunner, and I have become a player there and matured as a person.”

Fabregas described the conversation with Wenger about his future as “one of the best” he has had with anyone in his life and clearly retains a deep personal loyalty.

“He is a second father for me, the most important person in my life after my father,” said Fabregas.

“He has behaved really well with me and taken me in like a son. I am part of his family.

"He doesn’t want me to leave. And in my last conversation with him in London, it was one of the most difficult moments I have experienced. I ended up very upset.”

Wenger’s determination to keep Fabregas centres on his belief that the long-term policy of investing particular energy in developing young players will pay dividends this season.

His key priorities are to buy one more central defender and a goalkeeper, with Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Werder Bremen defender Per Mertesacker and Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka among the targets.

“I am very confident [we’ll do better than last season],” said Wenger. “We invest in our work, in our beliefs, in the quality of our behaviour and I am confident that will pay off.

"We finished third last year and we hope we can improve on that.”

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