Arshavin urges Fabregas to reject Barca advances
Transfer Talk: Cesc back on the agenda while Emmanuel Petit says Wenger should manage France
Arsenal striker Andrei Arshavin has made an impassioned call for Cesc Fabregas to reject the sordid advances of struggling Barcelona – hammered 2-1 by Atletico Madrid at the weekend – and pledge his future to the Gunners.
Arsenal's 22-year-old skipper has been targeted – or tapped up, to put it another way – for months by the classless Catalans, who want to bring Fabregas back to the club of his youth.
But in an interview with Russian newspaper Sport Express, Arshavin has pleaded with the young Spaniard to remain with Arsenal, the club who have made him the player he now is. "If he goes to Barcelona, I will understand his choice," said Arshavin, displaying the good grace for which the Gunners are renowned, "but as an Arsenal player I really don't want this to happen. I remember when there were rumours of his departure last summer, I told him half-jokingly, half seriously: 'Stay at least a year or two, I want to play with you'."
Arshavin says that he and Fabregas "joke about this topic again now", but as in a lot of cases, the laughter is there only to mask the pain. "Cesc is a grown man and only he can decide," says the Russian.
Arsenal's rivals Manchester United could land Klaas Jan Huntelaar in a deal that sees Nemanja Vidic moving to AC Milan.
The big Serbian is set to quit United at the end of the season and Milan will offer a cash-plus-Huntelaar deal to lure him to Italy rather than Spain and Real Madrid.
Back to Catalonia and it seems Barcelona are not only chasing Fabregas but also have their greedy eyes on Portmouth defender Nadir Belhadj. According to the Mirror the Spanish side's midfielder Xavi Fernandes has alerted Barca to Belhadj's potential after the Algerian shone in last month's African Nations Cup, as did Madjid Bougherra of Rangers. "I was surprised by the work of Belhadj and Bougherra," Fernandes told the Mirror. "They practise a game that we play under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona." Belhadi would likely jump at the chance to leave the crisis-hit Portsmouth, though would he want to join a club as baseless as Barcelona?
Talking of baseless, it appears it's not just the Spanish who are trying to disrupt the equilibrium at the Emirates. A poll in Gallic rag France Soir revealed that 15 per cent of the population want Arsene Wenger to replace Raymond Domenech as the next manager of France after the World Cup. It that wasn't bad enough, Emmanuel Petit, another one of the many players whose career went into freefall the moment he turned his back on Arsenal, is talking up his old boss for the role.
"He is a visionary and an innovator," says Petit, a member of the Arsenal double-winning side of 1998. "His playing philosophy is ideal... he is intelligent and knows how to create a winning spirit. If Arsenal finish the season without a trophy, the frustration will only increase and becoming coach of France would allow him to escape this daily pressure."
In other news, the Sun says that Manchester City and Chelsea are "on red alert" after Seville striker Luis Fabiano refused to discount a lucrative move to the Premier League. The 29-year-old Brazilian has been doing great things in Spain, bagging eight goals in 12 goals in a fertile forward partnership with former Spurs frontman Fredi Kanoute. The Sun quotes £15m as being the amount City or Chelsea would need to cough up to prise Fabiano away from Seville.
"I do not want to speak about my future at the moment because we are just thinking about the Champions League and the Spanish league. I have a year left on my contract and am happy at Seville," said Fabiano, in a firmly-worded statement designed to put an end to transfer tittle-tattle. Though he then added, "But things can change very quickly." ·
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