Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal blast Barcelona over Fabregas offer

Arsenal yesterday turned down a £33million offer for Cesc Fabregas and told Barcelona: “He is not for sale at any price”.

The Catalan club finally tabled an official written bid and had planned to parade their new signing to supporters at the Nou Camp tomorrow, taking advantage of one of two remaining free days the player has before he goes to South Africa.

But Arsenal made it clear they value the midfielder as highly as Manchester Untied valued Cristiano Ronaldo and flatly refused to do business.

Fabregas will make his comeback from injury tonight in a friendly against South Korea before he returns from Spain's World Cup training camp in Austria.

Barcelona had hoped to unveil their number one summer target tomorrow in what will be a free day for the player but their advances were rejected in the strongest terms possible.

A club statement read: “We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment.

“However, on Tuesday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.

“To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word.”

Time will tell whether the initial posturing can be sustained throughout the summer or if Barca can move closer to the £80m price tag the club has put on its number one target.

If Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had wanted to avoid appearing weak in what could yet turn out to be his first big sale since taking his position in January 2009 then he achieved it with the strongly-worded rebuttal.

Hanging onto their captain after he has stated his desire to leave the club still looks an unsustainable posture to adopt and Fabregas himself has hinted strongly that his manager and mentor Arsene Wenger will eventually loosen his grip.

But his original request to have his future sorted out before the World Cup now looks unlikely to be met.

For the negotiations — that Arsenal say will not be taking place — to reach a positive conclusion for Fabregas before the World Cup there would have to be major

movement on both sides before next Wednesday when Spain play their last World Cup warm-up friendly in Murcia on June 9 against Poland.

Fabregas will have the following day free and president Joan Laporta has long seen that date as his last chance to land the club's former youth team star before he leaves office.

Spain players have to report for duty the following day for the flight to South Africa.

Striker Fernando Torres has trained for the first time since undergoing a knee operation on April 18 and should make a full recovery in time for the finals.

The 26-year-old Liverpool player joined Vicente del Bosque's squad in light training yesterday, featuring in a half-hour practice match.

His return was a boost for the whole team, defender Gerard Pique said: “Fernando is an important player for us and hopefully he can be ready for the first World Cup match.”

The Spanish face South Korea in the Austrian city of Innsbruck today will be looking for a better performance than the 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia at the same ground on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are being strongly linked with a move for Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole (pictured). Reports suggest that Cole will sign for Arsenal on a three-year deal.

The England international will make the switch from Chelsea and sign on a free transfer.

The rumours follow Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp’s comments that he believed Cole had already agreed to a move.

“It looks to me that someone's going to make a great free transfer,” he said.

“I genuinely don't know who that is, but I don't think it's going to be Tottenham.

“I've got a feeling — and I may be wrong — that he's already agreed a deal with someone.”

Cole’s contract at Chelsea was not going to be extended, and the 28-year-old fell out of favour with his manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Belfast Telegraph


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