Arsene Wenger has told the Arsenal board that he will oppose any bid for his captain Cesc Fabregas this summer.
Fabregas, meanwhile, said yesterday that he "did not know" whether Arsenal wanted to sell him to Barcelona this summer and expressed his frustration at not winning trophies with the Gunners.
The midfielder did insist, though, that he would not repeat the mistake he made last year in trying to force a move, but, tellingly, admitted he was "frustrated" at Arsenal's lack of trophy success over the past six years and claimed that going to Barcelona would "guarantee winning titles".
Wenger hopes to appease Fabregas by pushing ahead with a bid for Bolton defender Gary Cahill, with Manchester City believed to have dropped their interest, and the Shakhtar Donetsk play-maker Willian. Lille are also hoping to sell the striker Gervinho to Arsenal.
Although Wenger wants to keep Fabregas, it appears highly likely that Gael Clichy, who is going into the final year of his contract, will leave -- Manchester City are understood to be challenging Liverpool and a host of foreign clubs for the left-back.
Wenger remains hopeful of keeping Samir Nasri although the player's representatives have spoken to Manchester United.
Fabregas has made no secret of his desire to return to Catalonia after eight years at Arsenal, but, it's believed, he will not ask for a move or submit a transfer request. Instead Fabregas will hope that Barcelona make an offer that Arsenal cannot refuse.
It seems, however, that is unlikely to happen this summer. Barcelona have not submitted a bid so far for Fabregas, having had two offers turned down last year, and it's understood that he still does not represent a priority for coach Pep Guardiola, despite the noises coming out of Spain.
The club's intentions may become clearer today with club president Sandro Rosell due to give a press conference at which he may well be asked about Fabregas, who was in Madrid yesterday at a promotional event.
At that event, Fabregas was naturally questioned about his future. He chose his words carefully but the underlying sense was clear. He wants to go but does not want to be seen to be agitating for the move. "I have not spoken with the manager," the 24-year-old said. "He is the chief, the one who makes decisions, and I don't know if they want to sell me or not.
"I have certain values and after eight years here (at Arsenal) I am not going to say anything that might cause trouble. I have always moved with discretion. Last year was very difficult. Perhaps I was wrong to make my position clear (about moving to Barca last summer).
"Everyone has their own way of interpreting things, but in these decisions it does not always just depend on the player. I will not speak of any team, but you can never say never to anyone or anything, because none of us know what will happen in the future."
Crucially, he went on: "Barcelona is the best team in the world and going there would guarantee winning titles. Any player that says he is not frustrated at not winning things is lying. I am ambitious."
Fabregas' stance -- suggesting he is open to going, but qualifying that heavily by stating he is happy at Arsenal -- would appear to back up suggestions from within the club that Wenger has already informed him he will rebuff an offer.
The club's board will not oppose the manager's wishes and as Fabregas has four years left on his contract, it will be difficult for him to add any pressure without formally asking to leave -- which he is unwilling to do. (© Daily Telegraph, London)