Arsenal dig in for Fabregas fight as Chamakh arrives

ARSENAL last night completed the signing of long-term target Marouane Chamakh and vowed to do their “damnedest’’ to keep want-away skipper Cesc Fabregas at the club.

Chamakh joins the Gunners on a free transfer at the end of his contract with French side Bordeaux, and manager Arsene Wenger has backed him to be “a great addition” to the squad.

Chamakh has made no secret of his ambition to move to the Barclays Premier League and said: “This is a dream come true and a great joy to be joining Arsenal. My goal was always to play in the Premier League, and Arsenal was the choice of my heart.”

Chamakh played a key role in Bordeaux winning the French league title in 2009 and leaves the club after 293 appearances, during which he has scored 79 times.

Wenger has been looking to strengthen his options in attack, and said: “We are delighted that Marouane Chamakh has joined us.

“He is a player we have admired for some time now and I know he will provide our squad with great quality.

“Chamakh is a striker of real quality and has all the attributes suited to come to England and do very well.

“He is also a fighter, not only a good football player, but a fighter as well. He is very good in the air and also a good team player. He is a great addition to our squad.”

Chamakh has scored 27 goals in 53 appearances for Morocco and said Arsenal was always his favoured destination.

“Without any hesitation, Arsenal was my preferred club,” he said.

“The team and history of Arsenal, they make me dream. My goal was to join Arsenal out of all the English clubs because it is a club that makes me dream and I have been a fan since I was a child.’’

Earlier Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood said he was ‘‘confident’’ Fabregas would stay at the club.

Arsenal maintain that they have not had an official approach from Barcelona, even though Fabregas has told them he wants to return to the club where he began his career.

“The message has been given to them we don’t want to lose him and will do our damnedest to keep him,” Hill-Wood told Goal.com.

“We haven’t had an official approach from them and have made it perfectly clear we don’t want to lose him.”

Referring to Barcelona’s open pursuit of Arsenal’s star player, Hill-Wood added: “It’s a funny way of doing business.“I don’t know if he will stay. I’ve really got little to say but we very much hope he stays with us and we’re confident he will.”

However, should Fabregas gets his wish and goes back to his boyhood team, Hill-Wood says Arsenal will continue to challenge for silverware.

“We have done pretty well without one or two other star players,” said the chairman. “I would like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams back but they are 10 years too old.

“Although I think we had a very good season I’m confident that we can get better next year.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona technical secretary Txiki Begiristain insists the Catalan club will be “respectful” to Arsenal in their pursuit of Fabregas.

Begiristain said: “The player has shown his will to come to Barca, but we will not do anything until Arsenal want to negotiate.

“We have the will of the player to come to Barcelona, but what we won’t do is start to negotiate without Arsenal until an agreement is reached.

“Cesc has a contract with his club and we will be very respectful.”

Begiristain added: “As he has the will to return, we contacted Arsenal to ask them if they are ready to negotiate. We are waiting for an answer.”

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