LONDON, June 2 – Arsenal rejected Barcelona's opening bid in the fight to land Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas on Wednesday.Fabregas has made it clear to Gunners manager Arsene Wenger that he wants to rejoin Barca before the start of next season and the Spanish champions have declared their interest by making a "serious" offer for the Arsenal captain.
However, Wenger has no intention of losing Fabregas without a fight and the Premier League club responded to Barca’s bid with a strongly-worded statement calling on Josep Guardiola’s team to drop their interest in the player.
"Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is under contract with the club until the summer of 2015. He is a highly valued member of the team and part of our future plans," the statement read.
"We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment.
"However, yesterday evening (Tuesday) we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.
"To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."
Despite Arsenal’s desire to retain their prize asset, Barcelona have been courting Fabregas for some time and will still believe he can be brought back to the Camp Nou, where he was part of the club’s youth set-up before joining the Gunners aged 16.
Barcelona director general Joan Oliver said on the club’s website Wednesday: "Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon we made a serious, written offer to Arsenal" for Fabregas.
"Everyone knows that Cesc wants to play at Barca and they also know that we want to sign him, but the third factor in this equation is Arsenal. Any agreement has to go through them."
Barcelona vice-president Rafael Yuste added: "I’m hoping he can sign with Barcelona as quickly as possible. I’m optimistic… But we’re not going to do anything that compromises this transaction.
"The ball is in Arsenal’s court right now and we believe we have excellent relations with the club."
Despite playing in English football’s top tier since 2003, Fabregas is still only 23 years old and still has four years left on his Arsenal contract.
Reports suggest Barcelona have offered 29 million euros for the player, although the Gunners are believed to value Fabregas at a far higher price.
Barcelona recently boosted their squad for next season by adding another Spanish striker David Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros.