Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Arsenal fly without Fabregas

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas was not part of the 19-man squad which travelled to Portugal ahead of today's pre-season friendly against Benfica.

The Spaniard has been the subject of speculation all summer linking him with a return to Barcelona and has not featured for the Gunners in any of their pre-season matches to date.

He had been expected to play in today’s game, but last night Arsenal listed their full 19-man party and the 24-year-old was conspicuous by his absence.

Fabregas had been all smiles as he joined in with the rest of the Gunners squad for training at London Colney yesterday morning ahead of the flight to Portugal, but was not on the list of players the Gunners confirmed as having actually made the trip.

Barcelona want to bring their former trainee back to the Nou Camp, but will have to significantly up a £27m offer for Arsenal to cash in on their captain.

Should Fabregas — who has, officially at least, been troubled by a hamstring problem — feature against Udinese in the Champions League play-offs, then he would be ineligible to play in the competition for the defending champions should a move go through ahead of the transfer deadline. The first leg of the tie will be at the Emirates on August 16.

Manager Arsene Wenger must serve a one-match touchline ban following UEFA disciplinary action in the wake of his rant against Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in last season's away defeat to Barcelona. Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie are also suspended.

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