Barça deny Fabregas promise

BARCELONA sporting director Txiki Begiristain has denied the reigning European and Spanish champions have told Arsenal they will not be making a move for Cesc Fabregas this summer.

On Wednesday Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood claimed Barça had recently assured the Gunners they will not be tabling a summer bid for Fabregas, who has long been linked with a return to the Catalan giants where he spent several years as a youth player.

However, Begiristain was quoted as saying: “If Barcelona consider it necessary for the team, they will go for him, whilst always respecting the negotiations. We’ve never said that we are not going to try to sign Cesc Fabregas. We’ll see what happens.”

On Wednesday Hill-Wood had claimed: “There was a private conversation that took place in the boardroom and assurances have been made at the highest possible level. Arsenal do not expect those to be broken.”

Meanwhile Robin van Persie has admitted Wednesday night’s defeat has all but ended Arsenal’s title hopes.

The Gunners went down 2-1 at White Hart Lane despite Nicklas Bendtner pulling a late goal back after Danny Rose and Gareth Bale had given Spurs a two-goal lead.

Arsenal now find themselves six points behind leaders Chelsea with just four games to play.

“I don’t think Chelsea will drop more than six points now,’’ Van Persie conceded.

The defeat was compounded by Thomas Vermaelen sustaining a calf strain which will keep the defender out for two to three weeks.

Van Persie, though, believes the fact Arsenal have remained in contention until this stage of the season underlines the improvement they have made in the last 12 months.

“Definitely, if you look at last year,” he added. “No-one really expected this. But when you are this close you really want to win it. When you don’t do that it is frustrating.

“It felt good and I am happy to be back. But when you are there and your team is behind you want to do something to help them. Unfortunately I could not do that last night.”

Wenger introduced the Holland striker in the 68th minute and he made an immediate impact, inspiring his side forward but ultimately he was frustrated by Gomes.

The 26-year-old was thwarted by the Spurs keeper on more than one occasion when he chested down Abou Diaby’s chip and volleyed goalwards before producing a perfectly-placed free-kick that was destined for the top corner.

However, both efforts saw goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes produce stunning saves while also denying Sol Campbell’s goalbound header as time ran down.

Van Persie believes Gomes’ obstinacy stood between the Gunners claiming something from the game and thus keeping their title aspirations alive.

“Yes, especially the first one.

“I expected that to go in but somehow he saved it which is crazy. The free-kick was going straight into the top corner and he saved that as well. Those were big moments.

“It is a thin line between winning and losing. We had some good chances, they had some too. I felt we deserved maybe a draw from tonight.

“If you look at the second half we had a number of good chances and their keeper made a couple of unbelievable saves.”

Wenger, meanwhile, has conceded Vermaelen is likely to miss the rest of the season while Denilson is a doubt for the trip to Wigan on Sunday.

Wenger said: “We have to assess Denilson a little bit. He has a tight groin. I have no more news about him today. But it looks like three weeks and that means the season is over for him.”

However, there was better news about Van Persie and there does not appear to have been any adverse reaction following his return.

“He came back very well,” Wenger said. “We have to check him today and we see how he responds to that. It was a massive gamble as he had not played.

“But we’ll see how he is and hopefully he’ll get a few games now.”

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