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English Premiership

Guardiola pessimistic about Fabregas' arrival

BARCELONA, July 20 – Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted on Monday that the chances of landing Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas this summer now lay entirely with the World Cup winner's club Arsenal.The English Premier League side have all but withdrawn from negotiation after rejecting a 25 million euro offer from the Spanish champions where their 23-year-old captain, who still has five years of his contract to run, began his career before moving to London.

"He is a very important player for Arsenal and I understand that he will cost a lot of money," said Guardiola in his first press conference of pre-season.

"It is Arsenal who are in charge (of this deal) and if Arsenal don’t want it, ah well, he will not come."

Barcelona president Sandro Rossel, who reportedly had an angry confrontation with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger during the World Cup in South Africa over the future of Fabregas, is expected to head to London on Tuesday with a renewed offer of 40 million euros.

Guardiola understands the notion of losing a senior player for financial reasons as financially-strapped Barca have offloaded Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure as well as defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy and veteran French striker Thierry Henry.

"It’s a big blow for us," he said of Toure’s departure to Premier League side Manchester City in a deal believed to be worth around 33 million euros.

"I did everything possible to get him to stay and he’s a popular player in the dressing room, but he wanted to leave and there’s not much I could do.

"I am grateful for everything he gave Barca and I hope he finds a (regular) place (at City) that I was unable to give him."

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Another big name who could be on his way out of Barcelona is the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who only joined the club from Inter Milan last year in a deal that involved a swap for Samuel Eto’o.

Guardiola said the decision to remain or to move on was in the hands of Ibrahimovic.

"With a player at this level, it is up to him to decide on his future. He is a very special player of the higest level and only he can decide on what he wants to do," said Guardiola.

The Catalan sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo reported at the end of June that Ibrahimovic "had decided to leave Barcelona", linking him with a possible return to Italy.

The new recruits include Spain striker David Villa and Brazilian defender Adriano Correia.

Ten first-team players reported for their medicals on Monday as well as 18 reserve players ahead of Tuesday’s start to training. As with Real Madrid, all of those involved in the World Cup have been given until the start of August.

Guardiola said Argentinean midfielder Lionel Messi would return "when he wants".

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