By Avenell Dave
UPDATE: What a refreshing state of affairs - and more proof that Arsenal have some cojones after all.
After releasing this statement, it will be fascinating to see how Barcelona now behave.
Arsenal have set their stall out.
They have rejected the transfer and made it clear through the statement that this should be an end to the matter.
It won't be, of course, because Barcelona won't take no for an answer.
But now that Arsenal have gone public (being a publicly quoted company makes no odds in a situation like this since it's nothing to do with the shares in the club being bought), how will the drama play out?
And how will Barcelona now play it?
And, despite playing the PR game perfectly so far, how will Cesc play it? Watch this space.
It amazed me yesterday how many poeple seem to miss the point of transfer dealings and the rules of the game.
Arsenal never tapped up Maroune Chamakh - they made a bid for him and then, having failed to agree terms with Bordeaux, waited until the summer when he was available on a free transfer.
And they were legitimately able to speak to him from January as per international transfer rules.
The very fact that until today Barcelona had sought to undertake their tapping up of Cesc through interviews in the media - by directors and the President as well as players (though notably, as far as I can see it, not through Pep Guardiola) - is a breach of the rules.
The very fact that they unsettled Cesc by stating how important a transfer target he is for them this summer is against the rules. Simples.
Arsenal could have come out and made a statement that they thoroughly object to the conduct of Barcelona and will complain in the stongest possible terms against such a blatant case of tapping up.
The fact that Barca have today announced that they have opened official negotiations, and the fact that Arsenal have made no public complaint about Barcelona's conduct suggests that the club are resigned to selling our captain.
It's a huge blow if my conclusion is correct.
As one commentator said last week, we simply don't have enough talismen in the team now - RvP and Andrey Arshavin (when he can be bothered) are about the sum of it at present.
Theo Walcott, smarting from his England demotion and hopefully determined to learn about attacking play from the sidelines; Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere may well earn that title over time and Thomas Vermaelen may continue to grow, especially without William Gallas alongside him.
But while the move to Emirates has given so many more fans the opportunity to watch the Arsenal, the prospect of being able to compete on a level playing field with the best in the world seems to be further away than in our last season at Highbury, not closer.
Arsene Wenger must be pulling his hair out, wondering why he has to overhaul his squad so completely if we are to start winning the trophies this team has been close to lifting, but not quite close enough.
When Yoann Gourcuff was kicking his heels behind Kaka at Milan, Arsenal should have pounced - especially at the cut price Bordeaux ended up signing him for.
But I can understand why it seemed an unnccesary transfer at the time - much as signing Yaya Toure in the summer of 2003 seemed pointless even though he could have added some real quality to our team at a time when he would have cost nothing.
Is Gourcuff the man to slip into Cesc's creative dynamo position? Time will tell.
At elast we know how much he will cost because he has a buyout clause in his contract of roughly £21m and he's still young enough to have the best years of his career ahead of him.
What Wenger needs to do - for us fans who want to know the team will still be competitive next season - but also for the players who must be wondering why the top players are being sold at a rate of at elast one a summer - is start turning us into a club that buys the best, doesn't just nurture them for everyone else to enjoy.
Long contracts seem to mean nothing but a guarantee of income - but unless we sign the quality in more than one position to ensure we start lifting silverware, players will continue to see us a stepping stone to greater things.
And that, fellow Addicts, has got to stop.