The latest twist in the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga came yesterday when the full transcript of the club captain's meeting with Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, was leaked in the Spanish media.
The Spanish newspaper AS obtained a recording of the 20-minute meeting between Fabregas, who has been strongly linked to a move back to Barcelona this summer , and his manager at the Emirates.
The source of the leak is a mystery at the moment, but Guillem Balague claims that he knows exactly who was behind the recording.
"Well, this is clearly the work of Barcelona officials. Joan Laporta (Barcelona president) is absolutely determined to conclude this deal as soon as possible; he will not stop at nothing.
"Look, put it this way, if people can spy on the UN Secretery General , then something like this is not really hard to do. They do it in Spain all the time," said Skysports' La Liga Pundit.
The Full Transcript
This is a a slightly edited version of the transcripts as some irrelevant small-talk and banal chit chat was omitted.
The tape begins with Wenger (in his office) talking on the phone to Sir Alex Ferguson, the Man United manager. The subject matter is one Cesc Fabregas.
CESC FABREGAS: [knocks on the door] Hello, Boss?
ARSENE WENGER: Yes, come in...take a seat.
ALEX FERGUSON: [on the phone] What you need to do is put a ridiculous price tag on him to put them off...Something like £80m; Who knows? They'd probably pay—
ARSENE WENGER: Hmmm...I see...Look, I have to go now because he's sitting here in front of me as we speak. I'll ring you back later, OK?
ALEX FERGUSON: No worries, i'll let you get on with it. Always remember that, if everything fails, you can always take a boot to his face, Arsene [Laughs].
ARSENE WENGER: [Chuckles] Ok, I'll do that...But only as a last resort.
ALEX FERGUSON: Alright now then, Arsene, Turrah...will talk soon.
ARSENE WENGER: Ok, Alex, take care [hangs up the phone].
WENGER: Sorry about that, i was just having a quick chat with Alex...So how are you doing? Everything fine? How's the leg?
FABREGAS: Everything is fine boss...I'm cool, the leg is fine—I started training with the ball last week so everything is going to plan.
WENGER: Now you know why I called this meeting...
FABREGAS: Yes, but first i need to explain some—
WENGER: What's all this nonsense I'm hearing with you wanting to discuss future? I thought we already discussed this last year...
FABREGAS: I know, but let me just explai—
WENGER: And what's this talk about clarifying your future before the World Cup? There's nothing to clarify; you have a contract with us for five more years.
FABREGAS: I did not say that I wanted to leave, boss. All I said was, "If ever left Arsenal..It'd be for Barcelona." Everything else was just tabloid fabrication.
WENGER: What did I say last time before you left?
FABREGAS: Yes, I know what you said, but—
WENGER: I said, "Be careful what you say and who you talk to. Think about every word and sentence...Be economical and diplomatic with your answers."
FABREGAS: But, boss, you know how journalists act; they will make something out of nothing...I never said I wanted to leave Arsenal, never.
FABREGAS: Well, yeah...No, not exactly. My precise words were, "When I get back to Arsenal, I'll have to talk to the boss about my future and what's actually happening."
Wenger: [Wenger raises his voice] Future?! What does that actually mean? I have to say, this is completely unacceptable.
FABREGAS: But, I was told that Arsenal were willing to sell, which shocked me a little...I was confused. You told Barca last summer that I was not for sale at any price, I mean what's changed? I had to come down here and speak to you to clear things up...That's what I meant when I referred to "my future."
You have to understand that I was hearing different things from different people. And to add to this, the media just making up quotes and stories ; I can't stop that.
WENGER : First of all, we never told Barcelona or anybody else that you're up for sale. Who told you this? Where did you hear it from?
FABREGAS: My dad got a call from Laporta and said that you were willing to let me go.
WENGER : That's absolute nonsense. A blatant lie...And why is your dad even talking to Joan? See, that's the problem right there; we talked about this issue before—
FABREGAS: I never gave him permission to speak to him, you have to believe me. We had a big row over this after he told me—
WENGER: Cesc, we've discussed this before, you're a man now. You can't let family members speak for you about your business. It's always best to separate the two. I know he's your father and that the two of you are close, but you have to get this under control.
He is even giving full-length interviews now ; it's not right. Its clear that Joan is using him to get to you...You have to put a stop to this.
FABREGAS: I know, I know...I already banned him from speaking to any one. He didn't take it so well. Actually, he took it very badly.
[10 seconds of silence]
WENGER: Anyway, how is the family back home? By the way, is it true that Ibrahimovic and Pique are in love?
FABREGAS: [Guffaws] Who told you that? Oh, you're talking about that picture, right?
WENGER: What picture? I had a meeting with Fran [Merida] and he told me that they were filmed kissing in public. It was big news in Spain...He also said that they'll get married soon.
FABREGAS: [Laughs out loud] Nah, not exactly...let me explain.
This picture turned up on the Internet, which showed Zlatan and Gerard holding hands. Nobody knows if it's fake or not; but, the Italian website Corriera.it , who first ran the story, say that the picture was taken by a Barcelona fan outside Camp Nou.
I wouldn't jump to conclusions though. It can be easily taken out of context...But, it was funny nonetheless, especially when Ibra released a public statement that he was not gay.
WENGER: So they are not a couple then? [both laugh]
FABREGAS: No, they are most definitely not.
WENGER: Phew, I'm glad we cleared this up...I was about to send flowers.
FABREGAS: Anyway, What are you gonna say to Laporta?
Wenger: Don't worry, leave Joan to me. I know exactly what to say to him. Now, all I need from you is to concentrate on the World Cup and leave the rest to me.
FABREGAS: Ok, boss, that's fine with me.
WENGER: Good...I'll see you when you get back from Africa.
[Wenger calls Joan Laporta shortly after Fabregas leaves the office]
LAPORTA: [phone] Hey, Arsene, how are—
WENGER: Listen, Joan...Fabregas is not for sale...
WENGER: We will not even enter negotiations or discussions of any kind, you're wasting your time. Cesc Fabregas is not for sale at any price. And another thing, don't bother contacting us again...Its getting boring now.
LAPORTA: But I have a good offer this time: How about £40m plus Toure and—
WENGER: Bye bye, Joan. [hangs up phone]
LAPORTA: Just let me finish...Allo! Arsene, allo!...Gilipolles.
END OF TAPE.
What Fabregas Said
Two days after meeting Wenger, Cesc Fabregas, speaking from the Spanish training camp, said, “I will only say one thing, I have great respect for Arsene Wenger, for Arsenal football club, and for the Arsenal fans.
"Sometimes not even in my house I feel more love than I felt at Arsenal. I had a long conversation with Arsene, it was probably the greatest conversation I’ve had with someone in my life and I respect him so much and I don’t want to say too much about this.
"He told me to concentrate on my football, he told me to concentrate on the World Cup, he told me to leave it in his hands, he will deal with whatever happens in my future and that’s what I’m doing, just concentrating on football. It’s not up to me any more and it’s just now about Arsenal and wherever it has to be and that’s it."
Video footage of the interview can be seen here .
What Arsenal Said To Barcelona
Arsenal FC have rejected all offers from Barcelona for captain Cesc Fabregas.
The London club released an official statement on the Arsenal website .
The Gunners also sent a dozen red roses to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gerard Pique. A source close to the players revealed that although they didn't understand why they received the roses, they still loved the gift and gave Arsene Wenger a call to thank him personally.