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Fabregas says he will stay at Arsenal this season


LONDON (Reuters) -- Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas ended speculation linking him with a move to La Liga champion Barcelona by confirming his commitment to the Premier League club on Friday.

"Firstly I would like to apologize 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," the 23-year old Spanish international said in a statement.

"I cannot deny that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me... There are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona.

"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.

"I am a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me... I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100 per cent focused on playing for Arsenal," he added.

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Fabregas, who began his career at Barcelona, had been heavily linked with the Catalan club, who had two bids turned down in the close season, including a $46.12 million offer, according to British media reports.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has remained adamant since the end of last season that Fabregas would remain at the club, this week called on his young captain to end the speculation surrounding his future.

"I have had many conversations with 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," Fabregas continued.

"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."

The classy midfield playmaker, who joined Arsenal in 2003, is a popular figure at the north London club and will be a key figure in their quest to win a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.

Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2004. Fabregas has enjoyed huge success in the Spanish national team, helping them win the 2008 European Championship and this year's World Cup.