Arsenal say they have "no intention" of selling Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and have rejected a formal offer from the Spanish champions for the midfielder. The English Premier League club said in a statement yesterday that Fabregas, who is under contract until 2015, is "a highly valued member of the team and part of our future plans." In a statement they said: "Yesterday evening [Tuesday] 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 counter-proposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word." The 23-year-old Spain international has long been linked with a return to Barca, the club where he plied his trade as a youngster before moving to the Gunners seven years ago. While Fabregas still has five years to run on his Arsenal deal he last month expressed his desire to head back to the Nou Camp during a promotional event in the Catalan capital.
Joan Oliver, the Barca director general, told the club's website: "Everyone knows that Cesc wants to play for this club and everyone knows that we also want this. But there is a third major player, which is Arsenal. Any deal must go through them and June 1 was the beginning of the period of official negotiations." Rafael Yuste, the vice-president, told www.fcbarcelona.cat that he was still optimistic of completing a deal: "I'm hopeful he can sign for the club as soon as possible. I'm optimistic and it is clear that he, his family, the players and the entire environment would give a very warm welcome." * PA