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English Premiership

Barca to keep hands off Fabregas

LONDON, April 14- Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has insisted Barcelona have told the Premier League club they will not be making a bid for Cesc Fabregas after the end of the season.

The Gunners captain has long been linked with a return to the Nou Camp, where he spent several seasons as a youth player before joining north London side Arsenal.

But during Barcelona’s recent Champions League quarter-final win over Arsenal, Hill-Wood said his boardroom counterparts at the Spanish giants had made it clear there would be no bid for Fabregas in the close season.

And the Arsenal chairman questioned whether Fabregas would break into the Catalans’ side as they are "pretty happy with what they’ve got".

Hill-Wood, speaking to ESPN Soccernet on Wednesday, said: "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.

"I was not privy to the conversation, but was told about it," Hill-Wood added. "They said to us they are not interested (this European summer).

"It was a recent conversation, as recent as the time that they played us in the Champions League in fact as we got a bit upset because of all the media speculation.

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"Subsequent to the conversation, if they are interested at any time in the future, they would come to us direct. However I’m not sure they are going to do that, because they told us they are pretty happy with what they have got and are pretty happy with their current players."

But assurances given by the present Barcelona hierarchy could prove worthless if there is a change in the boardroom as a result of the club’s forthcoming presidential election.

But with the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta at the heart of Barcelona’s midfield, Hill-Wood questioned whether a move to the Nou Camp would be in Fabregas’s interests.

"If you want my opinion, I’m not sure he would even get in their team," he said. "Do they need him? I’m not sure that they do. And they said to us they are not interested.

"That suits us fine. Fabregas is an Arsenal player and we want him to remain an Arsenal player. We hope he stays with us for a very long time."

Arsenal will move into second place in the Premier League, and go three points behind leaders Chelsea with four games to play, if they beat Tottenham in the north London derby at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

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