In November of 2008, Cesc Fabregas was named Arsenal captain at the age of 21. A year later, he announced that he was "happier than ever here."
Despite years of stories in the Spanish press—gleefully regurgitated in the English rags as easy fodder to sell copy—and years of Fabregas denouncing a move to Barcelona, the rumors still circulate and every word, gesture, or comment is twisted in an attempt to crack the whip in the circus that is Premier League and European football.
Yes, it has been difficult for a player committed to his club and manager to watch his younger teammates fold under the pressure of the final weeks in the Premiership title race.
But a man of character and conviction doesn't suddenly change his resolve.
If anything Cesc is likely driven by the success of Barcelona in 2009/2010, and wants to not only achieve something similar or greater (let's face it, Cesc knows he's playing in the most competitive league on the planet right now, and that La Liga is a two-team joke in comparison); but he wants to be a leader and driving force in that success.
You don't accept the captain's armband in the rebuilding years at one of Europe's biggest clubs without already having some idea of the tough time that might lie ahead. You also don't sign a multi-year contract that signals your long term commitment to the cause thinking that you might, at some point during that time, fancy a move to seemingly greener pastures.
But if you read the newspaper stories and blog machinations that have been going on since the end of the Premiership season, the Arsenal captain has suddenly decided that he needs to settle his future before the World Cup.
Well, he's already done that.
Its just as likely that the meeting this week between Wenger and Fabregas was to review the previous campaign, get the captain's input on some changes, review prospective new signings and transfers, and "settle the future" before Cesc goes off to prepare for a very important World Cup campaign.
Having had this meeting, Cesc would have complete buy-in to what is going to happen at the club during the summer, making it easy to denounce the present day rumours that he's going to join the club that treated him well as a prospect, but didn't satisfy his desire to grow in to a man as a professional player.
Don't forget it is Wenger who Cesc regarded "like a father figure" when he was asked to wear the captain's armband. Nature vs nurture; let's not forget the nature of the man and the manner in which Arsene and Arsenal have nurtured him to be the finest playmaking midfielder in the world.
So let the circus that is professional football have their "silly season" game by twisting words and comments about players. They've done it for years.
Let timid, ignorant, and motivational-challenged authors like Myles Palmer of Arsenal News Review gleefully shout that the sky is falling like they've been doing for years (and have gotten it wrong all along) because actually trying hard to understand how things really are should be left to people who have more than a fleeting interest in the sport and its players.
If he was to leave Arsenal, Barcelona would surely be the team Cesc would want to play for. Just like Henry still gets that glint in his eye when he is asked about Arsenal. Everyone should remember though, that Barcelona was the club that Cesc wanted to leave because Arsenal wanted him to play for them. He's never forgotten that.
As for Arsenal FC, since it knows it needs to strengthen its defense and toughen its spine, it's not about to go sell the heart of the current squad in the meantime. Cesc is not for sale, and he doesn't want to leave on the dawn of the next chapter in the ongoing drive of the club to be the most stable and successful club in Europe.
The stability is coming around, the success that Cesc, Wenger, and the fans want and are going to achieve is on the horizon too.