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Arsenal captain Fabregas gives up on dream Barcelona return

Cesc Fabregas joined English club Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003, when he was just 16.
Cesc Fabregas joined English club Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003, when he was just 16.
  • Cesc Fabregas announces that he will not be joining Spanish champions Barcelona
  • Spain midfielder concedes that Arsenal will not let him leave London this season
  • He reveals that Barcelona failed with two formal offers for him in past few months
  • Barcelona issue statement expressing "regret" and reveal no offer was above $53 million

(CNN) -- Arsenal's Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas has conceded that he will not return to Barcelona this season, ending months of speculation ahead of the new English Premier League campaign.

The 23-year-old made it clear before the World Cup that he wanted to rejoin his boyhood club, who he left to move to London in 2003.

However, Arsenal refused to negotiate with the Spanish champions, whose ability to mount a serious bid has been hampered by recent cashflow problems.

Fabregas was embarrassingly wrapped in a Barcelona shirt by his Spain teammates on return to the country after winning the World Cup, but now insists he is committed to Arsenal -- where he has a contract until 2014.

I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me. I owe a lot to the club, and I will respect their decision
--Cesc Fabregas

"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 Arsenal captain said in a statement on his club's website.

"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 this 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 a professional and I fully understand that it is Arsenal's prerogative not to sell me. 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.

"I can assure all the fans that now the negotiations have ended I will be 100 percent focused on playing for 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."

Barcelona released a statement later on Friday expressing "regret" that Arsenal would not let the player go.

"FC Barcelona regrets the decision of Arsenal FC to declare the player not for sale and their decision not to take into consideration the offers proposed. None of those offers, in any way, exceeded €40 million ($53 million)," the club said on its website.

Wenger was relieved to keep Fabregas, who struggled to win a starting place for Spain but is a key player for his club.

"When I was at the World Cup I met so many people in South Africa, and the first thing I heard was 'Don't let Fabregas go.' That means it is a huge lift for everybody who loves the club," the Frenchman told his club's website.

Arsenal's final pre-season match is against Legia Warsaw in Poland on Saturday, with Wenger's team unbeaten in five matches so far.

The Gunners travel to Liverpool the following weekend for their Premier League opener on the Sunday, having finished third last season.

English double winners Chelsea face league runners-up Manchester United in the traditional season curtain-raiser, the Community Shield, at Wembley on Sunday.

United allowed Senegal striker Mame Biram Diouf to join Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan on Friday.

The Spanish league season starts on August 29, with Barcelona traveling to Racing Santander and last season's runners-up Real Madrid away to Mallorca.