Wenger to weigh up Barcelona bid to lure Fabregas
Arsene Wenger faces one of the biggest tests of his managerial career as he attempts to persuade Cesc Fabregas that the Arsenal captain can achieve all his ambitions with the Gunners rather than at Barcelona.
The Spanish giants, Fabregas' boyhood club, have welcomed the news their prodigal son, who left for Highbury when aged 16 in 2003, would like to return. However, Barcelona also accept the Gunners must have the final say on whether any potential deal can be brokered.
Arsenal, of course, have no intention of letting their star man leave, with Fabregas contracted until 2014 and one of the highest paid players at the club. It is a position respected by Barcelona's sporting director Txiki Begiristain.
"It's great news that he wants to come here and I think that one day Cesc will have to come to Barca, but what matters is Arsenal and what their decision is," Begiristain said. "They think he is a very important player for them. We have to respect that.
"At times the wishes of players do not come true because they are under contract. That he says that he wants to come to Barca is an indication that things are being done well here.
"I don't know when, but I have the impression that he is a Barca (style) player and that he will enjoy it very much. I wish it was as soon as possible.
"But we have to respect Arsenal's wishes and the contract he has."
Wenger is set for more talks with the midfielder, who was briefly back at the Gunners' training complex on Monday as part of his rehabilitation from a cracked fibula ahead of the World Cup.
Key to Arsenal's hopes of convincing Fabregas to stay on for at least one more campaign -- much as former captain Thierry Henry did before eventually joining Barcelona in June 2007 -- look set to be two-fold.
Wenger is keen to bolster his squad over the summer, with the arrival of Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh set to be confirmed shortly. Further additions are expected before the start of the new campaign.
Fabregas also knows he has an integral role to play at Arsenal -- something which would not be guaranteed at the Nou Camp as the midfielder would be competing with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets for a regular starting place.
Wenger will, however, also be acutely aware holding onto a player whose heart lies elsewhere serves no long-term gain and will already have plenty of other options in mind as he looks to fill a void at the heart of the side.
Mikel Arteta's agent maintains the midfielder is happy at Everton, but has long been on Wenger's radar, as has Brazil playmaker Felipe Melo.