Wenger: I’ll fight to keep star pair
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he will fight to keep captain
Cesc Fabregas and contract rebel Samir Nasri at the club.
The Gunners once again have endured a summer of transfer speculation surrounding Spain international Fabregas, with Barcelona lodging a £27million bid which was rejected.
Nasri has yet to commit himself to the club, with his current deal set to expire in 12 months’ time, and Manchester United is said to be ready to test Arsenal’s resolve with a £20million offer.
However, as he prepares the squad for a tour to the Far East, which Fabregas is set to miss with a troublesome hamstring, manager Wenger maintains both men are key to the future of the team.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Wenger said: "Our position is always the same, we want to keep Cesc and I will fight as hard as I can to keep him.
"Samir Nasri is exactly the same. We will do everything we can to keep him."
Barcelona seems determined to bring their former youth player back to the Nou Camp, but on the other hand have no intention of being held to ransom over Arsenal’s £40million valuation.
For his part, Fabregas does not want to leave the club he joined as a teenager in 2003 on bad terms. Whatever transpires during the summer transfer window, it is a blow to Arsenal that their captain will now not play during what is an important trip aimed at boosting the club’s brand in Asia, with games set for Malaysia and China.
Wenger said: "We will take the strongest possible squad, but Fabregas will not travel because he still has a small muscular problem. He will stay and practice here.
"There is a doubt about [Emmanuel] Eboue who has done his calf."
While Fabregas may not be heading out to Asia, Arsenal has included Japan youngster Ryo Miyaichi, who has returned after a successful loan spell in Holland at Feyenoord.
Wenger, though, rejected suggestions the 18-year-old’s participation was purely a cunning marketing ploy. "He is on the plane because he is quality," the Arsenal manager said. "It is a good opportunity for him to show that he has the talent to play for Arsenal.
"Everybody will be curious to see him play in Asia."
Gervinho is understood to have undergone a medical, with confirmation of a four-year deal expected shortly. Arsenal is also expected to step up their pursuit of £17million-rated Bolton centre-back Gary Cahill, while reports in Spain suggest Emirates Stadium is the preferred destination of Valencia’s Under-21 Spain midfielder Juan Mata, whose buy-out clause would be around £20million.
Although not being drawn on specific targets, Wenger confirmed he was looking for some more fresh faces to bolster a squad which imploded on all fronts after losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham at Wembley.
"I can promise you that we will work very hard and we have had some long nights to achieve what we want to achieve," he said.
Wenger certainly has funds available, with full-back Gael Clichy sold to Manchester City last week in a reported £7m deal. However, the Gunners boss rejected suggestions he would buy just for the sake of it. "If there were an obvious choice, people would have already made their decisions," Wenger said.
"Everybody needs the same players for the same positions. We are at the top level and therefore need exceptional quality to strengthen our side.
"I can understand that people say ‘you have money, just go out and buy’, but it’s not only that, we want to find the quality we need."
Wenger also believes the failings of the final weeks of the last campaign can serve to inspire his men for the challenges ahead. "I have said many times that we were very close to winning things last season, despite the disappointment we had at the end. I hope that provokes a response from my players," he added.
"We were so close this time we want to come back and achieve it. My responsibility is first of all not to lose players and then to add and make us stronger. Let’s hope we can bring in one or two more additions of top quality."