Friday 15 December 2017

Fabregas to play for Arsenal as Barca talks stall

Back to work: Cesc Fabregas will play his first game for Arsenal since April. Photo: Getty Images
Back to work: Cesc Fabregas will play his first game for Arsenal since April. Photo: Getty Images

Jeremy Wilson

Cesc Fabregas intends to make his first Arsenal appearance since April against Benfica on Saturday, despite being willing to take a pay-cut to join Barcelona.

It has also emerged that Manchester City and Chelsea have made tentative enquiries for the Arsenal captain even though he is only interested in a move back to Barcelona, his hometown club.

Yet with negotiations between Barcelona and Arsenal still deadlocked, he has been reintegrated with Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad this week.

Fabregas will appear before fans at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday as part of an event for club members and will take his place as captain in the club’s team photograph for the 2011-12 season.

He is also in the squad to play against Benfica in the club’s final summer friendly on Saturday evening and is, therefore, in contention to feature against Newcastle United in the Premier League the following week.

His involvement against Benfica and Newcastle is clearly still subject to any breakthrough in talks between Arsenal and Barcelona but, as of last night, the two clubs remained apart in their respective valuations.

The involvement of Fabregas in full pre-season training is a significant development as, up until last week, he was not integrated with the squad and had missed training camps and matches in Malaysia, China and Germany.

It strongly suggests that Wenger is still trying to persuade him to stay and is not yet resigned to losing a player with whom his relationship has been likened to that of a father and son.

Fabregas, though, does still want to rejoin the European champions. He is disappointed that the two clubs are yet to reach an agreement but accepts that, while talks are ongoing, he must make himself available for Arsenal.

His absence during pre-season has been attributed to a hamstring injury, although Wenger did admit that he missed the Emirates Cup last weekend due to a combination of his injury and being “unsettled”.

Barcelona are willing to pay £35 million for Fabregas, although £5 million of that fee is dependent on appearances and other add-ons.

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