Are Fabregas and Nasri in the frame for Arsenal?
Rumours are flying that the wantaway midfielders will be left out of the team photo when it is taken today
Pity the poor photographer whose job it is today to raise a smile from the Arsenal squad on the back of last weekend's disappointment in the Emirates Cup. It's the team photoshoot at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon and rumours are already circulating that the Gunners intend to have two snaps taken - one with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and one sans, as Arsene Wenger might say.
The photograph is part of a members day event at the Emirates, a jamboree that is expected to attract in excess of 10,000 fans with the players training afterwards before signing autographs. The press are not invited, however, so the Fourth Estate will not be able to see for themselves if the 'two snap shoot' is myth or reality. The Daily Mail claims that Robin Van Persie has been practising his captain's pose for the second photograph.
While the indications are that Nasri will see out the remaining year of his contract at Arsenal, the future of Fabregas is still unclear. The 24-year-old Spaniard has yet to appear for the Gunners in a pre-season friendly because of a hamstring injury but reports indicate he will be travelling with the squad on Friday to Portugal where Arsenal will play Benfica in the Eusebio Cup. Whether or not he's named in the Arsenal XI to face Newcastle the following weekend in the Premier League opener depends on Barcelona.
Attempts to broker a deal between the two clubs have stalled with Arsenal allegedly insistent that Barcelona cough up £40m and the Spanish giants refusing to go above £35m (£29.5m plus £5.5m add-ons). Yet Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is apparently determined to land Fabregas after more than 12 months of pursuit, saying recently: "We're short of just one player and everyone knows which one that is."
All of which is proving frustrating for Fabregas, who so far has kept his opinions to himself even though he is said to be desperate to return to the club of his youth. Instead his putative teammates are doing the talking for him with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique saying on Wednesday: "As a friend I want Cesc to come. I respect Arsenal but they should listen to the player to know what he wants."
At least there'll be one Gunner with something to smile about this afternoon. Twenty-year-old centre-back Kyle Bartley has just signed an extension that will keep him at the Emirates till 2014. Presumably that was his reward for putting the ball into his own net against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday to scupper Arsenal's chances of lifting the Emirates Cup...
Say cheese everyone. ·
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