Arsenal winning Cesc Fabregas war
Though he made no such public pronouncement to end the speculation there and then, Cesc Fabregas has given the strongest indication yet that he will be remaining at Arsenal for the forthcoming season at least.
The Spain international returned to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since becoming a World Cup winner in a summer that also saw a £29m bid from Barcelona rejected.
Approximately 10,000 Arsenal fans were there to meet him and did so with cheers and a standing ovation as a smiling Fabregas joined his colleagues for a 90-minute training session. He then posed for the team photograph, taking the place on the front row traditionally reserved for the captain, and met some of the club’s younger fans, the Junior Gunners.
It is no secret that the 23-year-old desires to rejoin the club he left as a teenager. Just a few days ago he told a crowd of 2,500 Barcelona fans in his hometown that he hoped to “see them more often”.
Yet it seems that Arsène Wenger, his manager, is winning a battle of wills that has seen Barcelona officials make a series of public pronouncements that the player should be granted his wish but, as it stands, fail to make an improved offer.
Wenger always insisted his captain, who has five years to run on a recently-extended contract, would not be sold at any price and that Fabregas would, as a result, have no option but to carry on wearing the armband at the club.
That was hailed as welcome news by Frank McLintock, the captain of the 1971 Double-winning side. “With players who want to leave it is usually better to let them go, provided you get the money,” he said. “But Arsène Wenger has dug his heels in and I’m pleased to hear that.”
Former Gunners captain Kenny Sansom, who was a special guest at yesterday's event, is convinced that Fabregas is staying at the club.
He said: “I've had a chat with Arsene Wenger and he told me he's going to stay, which is great news.
“It's a good day for the club, with all the fans being here to see Cesc back here, they all look up to him and it's great news that he's stopping.”
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who spent 11 years at the club, is also confident that Fabregas will stay.
“Today is the clearest indication you can get that he will stay,” the 68-year-old said.
“If you look at the team photo for the 2010-2011 season, he is at the front of the picture.
“There will be an announcement soon that tells everyone that Cesc Fabregas is going to stay at the Emirates Stadium for this season, and for maybe longer.”