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Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has declared he will stay at the club despite admitting a move to Barcelona was an attractive proposition.

The 23-year-old has been linked with Barca all summer, with the Gunners rejecting two bids from the Catalans.

Fabregas apologised to fans for the delay in committing his future but said he is now “100% focused on Arsenal”.

“I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal’s prerogative not to sell me,” he added.

“I owe a lot to the club, manager and the fans and I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.”

World Cup-winning midfielder Fabregas joined the north Londoners from home-town club Barcelona in 2003 as a 16-year-old and he admitted that the lure of returning to the Spanish champions was an attractive one.

“Firstly I would like to apologise to all the Arsenal fans for not speaking sooner about my future but I have not known what I was going to do until this moment,” he explained.

“I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me. This was the club where I learnt my football, it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.

“There are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona. I have had many conversations with [Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger both in person and over the phone over the last few months and although the content of those conversations will remain private, the conclusion is that Barcelona have had two formal offers rejected by Arsenal.

“I am an Arsenal player and as soon as I step out on to the pitch, that is the only club I will be thinking about. I am looking forward to the start of the season and putting this speculation behind me.”

Wenger has remained adamant throughout the summer that the playmaker was not for sale at any price, but the Spanish champions were not distracted by Arsenal’s obstinacy.

A number of Barca’s top players have expressed their desire for Fabregas to join them at the Nou Camp, including new signing David Villa and midfielder Xavi.

And during post-tournament celebrations for Spain’s World Cup triumph, a number of international team-mates forced Fabregas into a Barcelona shirt, which the player himself later brushed off as a joke.

Arsenal announced on 2 June that they had rejected an offer from Barcelona for Fabregas, insisting they had “no intention of selling him”.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell warned that his club would not be held to ransom for the player, indicating a fee of 50 or 60m euros was far more than they were prepared to pay.

Fabregas trained alongside his Arsenal team-mates on Thursday, appearing in front of fans at the Emirates Stadium at the club’s members’ day.

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