Wenger confident Cesc will stay
Arsene Wenger says speculation linking Cesc Fabregas with a move to Barcelona "has to stop" - and is confident his captain will stay put.
The Gunners opened their pre-season campaign with a comfortable 4-0 win at League Two side Barnet on Saturday, but Wenger continued to be dogged by the question of the future of his talisman, who has been given some extra time off after the World Cup.
Fabregas, who has five years still to run on his contract, may have told Wenger before the World Cup he wanted to return to the Nou Camp, but Arsenal remain determined to retain the services of their captain and have already knocked back one £30million offer.
Indeed, new Barcelona president Sandro Rosell admitted the Spanish club would not "go mad" to land their former youth team player - who was embarrassingly forced into a Barcelona shirt during Spain's victory celebrations in Madrid - in time for the new campaign.
The Arsenal fans displayed an X-rated anti-Barcelona banner at Underhill, and Wenger had been left equally unimpressed by the public courting of his captain, as a string of Barcelona players, many of whom are international team-mates of the World Cup winner, urged Fabregas to complete a move 'home' to the club he left as a 16-year-old.
"There was a lot of unneeded talk. It is not pleasant to read that every day. Now, the story has to stop," Wenger declared.
"Cesc is our captain, he is so important to us and we want to keep him, that is why we were not listening to any offers.
"It was not a problem of money, just the desire to keep him at the club."
The Arsenal boss continued: "We can only influence our own behaviour, and I believe things have now gone straight again with Sandro Rosell.
"We always had a consistent attitude and were always reluctant to talk about Cesc's departure.
"It is very important we give the impression that just because somebody wants a player from us, we do not just give in."
Whether or not Fabregas can be persuaded to stay on for at least one more season remains to be seen, with the Spaniard not due to link up with the Arsenal squad again until the Emirates Cup on July 31/August 1.
However, Wenger said: "We have shown our love and care for Cesc since the start. "I believe Cesc loves the club, has shown his attachment to the club many times and I am very confident the story will end there.
"We want Cesc to be part of our club next year, and that is it." Arsenal gave debuts to summer signings Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh this afternoon as the Gunners ran out comfortable winners, with youngster Jay Simpson netting a first-half double.
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who has seen his position as Arsenal number one come under question over the summer, was absent from the squad because of illness. Arsenal have been linked with a £4million move for Fulham's Australian international Mark Schwarzer.
When asked whether he was interested in a deal, Wenger replied: "Not really", before adding: "We are still looking at various situations, but I would not like to come out on any individuals.
"At the moment, in pre-season, there is no number one - you have to give a chance to everyone to show how good he is. You cannot decide that today."
The Arsenal manager continued: "It was an opportunity to see everybody, including some young players.
"Both new signings did well over the 45 minutes, Koscielny adjusted slowly to the required challenges in the air, and you could see Chamakh was very good at bringing players in, and with creative midfielders, that will be suited to our game."
The Arsenal manager maintained Arsenal were "still active in the transfer market", but would not be drawn on targets - which are said to include free agent Joe Cole and Udinese centre-half Cristian Zapata.
Wenger, though, confirmed he expected both William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre to leave with their contracts now expired, but veteran Sol Campbell could yet sign a one-year deal.
The Arsenal manager's own future has to be resolved soon, with his current agreement finishing in the summer of 2011. He said: "I don't think anyone can question my own commitment to this club.
"The important thing is the feeling that I have, that I do well enough for the club."