Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal win key battle for Cesc Fabregas

The summer's most high-profile transfer saga appears to be over after Barcelona target Cesc Fabregas confirmed he is “100% focused” on playing for Arsenal this season.

The Gunners captain, 23, committed himself to the London club for the 2010-11 season after saying that he respected their decision to reject two offers from Barca who were keen to re-sign a player who had come through their academy system.

It is a great piece of news for the Gunners after they steadfastly refused to negotiate with Barcelona over a player whose contract runs until 2014. However, it may be that speculation resurfaces next summer after the player admitted a return to his native Catalonia was an “attractive” proposition.

Fabregas said: “I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me.

“I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.

“I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100% focused on playing for Arsenal.

“I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch, that is the only club I will be thinking about.

“I am looking forward to the start of the season and putting this speculation behind me.”

He added: “I would like to apologise to all the Arsenal fans for not speaking sooner about my future but I have not known what I was going to do until this moment.

“I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me. This was the club where I learnt my football, it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.

“There are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona.

“I have had many conversations with Arsene Wenger both in person and over the phone over the last few months and although the content of those conversations will remain private, the conclusion is that Barcelona have had two formal offers rejected by Arsenal.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will now be able to prepare for the start of the Premier League season with his star player in tow.

Barca released a statement, lamenting the failure to sign Fabregas.

The statement said: “In the light of the statement released today regarding the contractual future of Cesc Fabregas, FC Barcelona regrets the decision of Arsenal FC to declare the player not for sale and their decision not to take into consideration the offers proposed.

“None of those offers, in any way, exceeded 40 million euros.”

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