Belfast Telegraph

Fabregas not on Portugal flight

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas was not part of the 19-man squad which travelled to Portugal ahead of Saturday'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.

Arsenal listed their full 19-man party which flew out from the UK on Friday evening and the 24-year-old was conspicuous by his absence.

Fabregas was all smiles as he joined in with the rest of the Gunners squad for training at London Colney 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 £27million offer for Arsenal to cash in on their captain.

However, 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 Udinese tie will be played at the Emirates Stadium on August 16.

Wenger later explained Fabregas' absence, saying: "I don't think Fabregas will be ready to start the season because he has been out for a long time and has had no games."

Asked whether there had been any developments regarding the Spain midfielder's future, Wenger told "I do not want to speak about the transfer of Fabregas because I have done that three years now in every press conference so I don't think there is any more need to add something," said Wenger.

"I love Fabregas and I want him to stay, that is basically it."


From Belfast Telegraph