By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is convinced that Cesc Fabregas still "deeply loves" Arsenal Football Club.
The captain's proposed move to Barcelona has been the transfer saga of the summer but Arsenal made their intentions clear from the outset: Fabregas is not for sale.
The 23-year-old laid the rumours to rest when he confirmed he would be staying in a statement released last Friday. And despite a lack of pre-season preparation, Fabregas could lead Arsenal out for their Premier League opener at Anfield on Sunday.
Wenger has yet to finalise his line-up but he has seen enough since Fabregas' return to training to suggest that the captain has not lost his affection for the team he joined in September 2003.
"Cesc has been very good and, despite all of the stories, his love for the Club was never under threat," said Wenger at his pre-match press conference.
"You could understand he was torn between Barcelona and staying here, but he really deeply loves the Club and I could prove that to you. His attitude has been completely spot-on."
Wenger was in regular contact with Fabregas during the summer as those transfer rumours reached fever pitch. So did he ever feel that he was poised to lose his captain?
"I wouldn't like to come out with my feelings," replied Wenger.
"I tried very hard to show him how much I want him to stay.
"Of course you never completely know the outcome but my resolution and determination was always very strong to keep him and it was never a question of money."