Arsenal - more than just a feeder club

By Graham McNorthbank

Who else was impressed by Arsenal's dignified handling of the Cesc Fabregas situation yesterday?

I have to admit that I was feeling increasingly frustrated by the club's silence over the matter during the past couple of weeks, but I should have known better, I should have trusted the club.

The way in which they put down Barcelona's offer for our skipper was as simple as it was genius.

The club broke its silence by using one of Barca's early pronouncements about Cesc to effectively draw a line under the saga.

In a statement Arsenal said, "Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."

Brilliant. Whoever drew up that statement - I suspect Arsene Wenger played a major part - could not have sent out a more damning rebuke.

Will Barcelona do the honourable thing and respect Arsenal's wishes? Of course not.

The bid they submitted for Fabregas was in the region of £30 million (£29-33m according to the various press reports), or about half of what Arsenal would probably value our best player at.

The Gunners' statement revealed that Barca have twice before approached the club to enquire about a Fabregas transfer deal and were told that he is not for sale.

But of course there are already reports coming out of Spain that Barca are preparing a second offer for Cesc. Presumably that will also be kicked into touch by the Arsenal board.

I've said in the past that I expect Cesc to still be at Arsenal next season, but even my blind optimism was starting waver up until yesterday's public statement.

However, now that Arsenal has stated its position, it MUST stick to it. The saga will prove to be a true test for our club. Having said our captain is not for sale, the board has put the club in a position where it has to make sure Fabregas remains an Arsenal player next season.

Barcelona prides itself in its "Més que un club" motto. But now is the time for Arsenal to show to the world that even if Barca come up with an £80 million bid for our skipper that he is not for sale.

It's time for our own new motto: Arsenal - more than just a feeder club.