Cesc Fabregas will play no part in Arsenal’s friendly with Benfica having not travelled to Portugal with the first team squad.
Arsene Wenger has told a press conference in Lisbon this evening that the Spaniard is still not ready to play a competitive match due to injury; a statement likely to be viewed by supporters as a smokescreen ahead of a near inevitable move to Barcelona.
“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.
“Everybody is free to think what they want. We cannot stop people raising questions.He is just coming back from injury and is not ready to play in a game. But he is not injured”.
The BBC reported this morning that Ivan Gazidis met with Nou Camp officials in London with a view to ending the Fabregas transfer saga once and for all. However, with Barcelona seemingly still unwilling to match the Gunners asking price, Sky Sports claimed a new bid, thought to be in the region of £35 million, has been rejected.
Drawn against Udinese in a tough Champions League qualifier there now appears to be an 11 day countdown before Gunners fans find out once and for all whether their star man will remain at the Emirates.
With Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri both banned from the first leg, Arsene Wenger will surely be under pressure to field Fabregas if he is fit. Obviously if the 23-year-old does turn out against the Italian side he would subsequently be cup tied for the group stage of this year’s competition and likely see his owner’s forfeit their chances of claiming a £40 million booty for his signature.
While Fabregas has not been selected to take part in Saturday evening’s Eusebio Cup showdown, Arsene Wenger has selected a strong 19 man squad. Japanese youngster Ryo Miyaichi returns after sitting out the Emirates Cup, Henri Lansbury looks set for his first pre-season minutes of the summer and Ignasi Miquel is also included after helping Spain to the under-19 European Championships in Romania.
Arsenal’s full squad to face Benfica
Robin van Persie