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Messi predicts old friend Fabregas will return to Barcelona

BARCELONA star Lionel Messi is confident Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will complete his return to the Nou Camp.

Arsenal, who rejected a £30 million (€36m) bid from the Catalan giants at the beginning of the summer, have remained firm in their stance that Fabregas is not for sale.

Fabregas has made no secret of the fact he would love a return to Barca, where he started his career as a youth-team player before moving to the Gunners in 2003, and admitted on Friday he is torn between the two clubs.

Barca players, many of whom progressed through the famous La Masia academy with Fabregas, have long pleaded with him to come back, and Messi has reiterated their desire.

"It is no secret that Cesc is my friend. The whole world knows that and I’d love him to sign for Barca," the Argentina international said.

"I hope that the matter can be resolved soon and I’m confident that in the end it will be resolved in the way that Cesc can be a Barcelona player."

Fabregas has five years remaining on his Gunners contract, and on Saturday night manager Arsene Wenger called on the Spain star to go public on what he wants.

"In the last six months, this story has made our lives difficult," Wenger said.

"At the moment, what is important is that when Cesc comes back, that he comes out.

"I have nothing more to add."

The Gunners boss, meanwhile, was pleased with a "positive weekend’’ after seeing his side retain the Emirates Cup.

The Gunners sealed the pre-season tournament victory yesterday thanks to an entertaining 3-2 win over Celtic, as goals from Carlos Vela, Bacary Sagna and Samir Nasri saw them home.

Arsenal led 3-0 but Daryl Murphy and Ki Sung-Yeung netted for Celtic to set up a nervy finale.

Wenger was happy with the performance of his players but admits his side are not yet fully prepared for the upcoming Premier League campaign.

"I think its a positive weekend because we have no big injuries and played quite well, seen two new players and some good young players,’’ Wenger said.

"I think overall in the first half we controlled the game and yesterday (in the 1-1 draw with AC Milan) and today you could see that physically and mentally we are not able to maintain the concentration for 90 minutes.

"In both games we suffered in the last 20. I believe it’s down to the fact that we work very hard and are not completely ready.’’

Wenger is still looking to recruit a centre-half but claimed he was "not close to signing anybody".

Asked if Germany defender Per Mertesacker would fit the bill, he said: "I wouldn’t like to comment on names because it raises the price straightaway 50%.’’