Arsene Wenger insists he had to let Cesc Fabregas join Barcelona because the Spain midfielder was no longer completely committed to the Gunners.
Wenger has fought to keep Fabregas out of Barcelona’s clutches for the last two years, but the Arsenal manager finally bowed to the inevitable last week after conceding it would be foolish to hold onto a player who was so desperate to leave.
He told Arsenal’s board to accept the Spanish champions’ latest offer of 35 million Euros and Fabregas was due to be officially unveiled as a Barca player early on Tuesday.
Wenger had forced Fabregas to stay at the Barclays Premier League club last season, but his often lacklustre performances hinted at his dissatisfaction and the French coach couldn’t tolerate a repeat this term.
“Yes we lost a world class player and we are sad about it. We did try to keep him but in the end we have to respect the desire of the player as well,” Wenger said at a press conference on Monday.
“It is very difficult to get the best out of a player; he has to be completely committed to where he is.
“If you understand one thing, it is that Cesc didn’t go for financial reasons. He wanted to go back to his home city.
“He didn’t go because he didn’t love the club. He wanted to go to the town where he was educated. It is very difficult to resist that.
“Everybody has his opinion, but you have to make decisions. It was my decision and of course I submitted that to the board and the chairman.”
Wenger also conceded he might struggle to hang onto disgruntled midfielder Samir Nasri, who has been linked with Manchester City.
Asked if selling Fabregas meant Nasri would definitely not be allowed to go, Wenger said: “The two things are not linked. Ideally I want Samir Nasri to stay, but as much as we were in a strong position on the contract side with Cesc this situation is a bit different.
“Hopefully we can sort the situation out and keep him. I don’t like to predict what will happen. It is very difficult to answer in an honest way if we can keep him.”
Although Fabregas’s departure is another blow for the increasingly beleaguered Wenger, there was no sign of concern or frustration from the Frenchman as spoke of his desire to move on from a saga that had become a significant distraction.
While his critics are predicting the end of an era, Wenger believes Arsenal will prosper without Fabregas.
“This club is 125 years old this season and many big players left and the club went on. That is what we want to show, that we have the strength and unity to fight as ever,” he said.
“I understand of course everyone has worries but I believe as well the club is a united front.
“Our players need the support from our fans, that is the most important thing. It is a very important period for his club and I’m confident we can go in a very successful way.
“It is important we remain united and don’t let the media manipulate the fans.”
Privately Wenger is believed to be frustrated at the way Barcelona have conducted negotiations for Fabregas, with the comments from the club and several of their players helping to unsettle the Arsenal captain.
But he refused the opportunity to criticise the European champions when asked about their behaviour.
“I don’t want to come out on that. That would be an endless conversation,” he said. “I feel what is important is to focus on our targets and we wish good luck to Cesc, who is one of the best players in the world. Life goes on.”
by Buford Balony