By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger insists there has been no secret meeting with Barcelona over the future of Cesc Fabregas.
The captain is regularly linked with a move back to his former club but, according to reports this week, the Catalan giants gave assurances to Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood that they would not attempt to sign Fabregas this summer.
However, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Wenger insisted that Arsenal and Barcelona had not held any official talks despite meeting in the Champions League recently.
"We have not been in touch with Barcelona over the future," said the Frenchman. "There is no secret meeting because we do not want to sell our players.
"We have an official dinner before every European Cup game and of course there is a lot of talk but there is no official meeting about Cesc Fabregas.
"Personally I don't know about that so I do not want to comment on that. I think the players who are here are under contract and, for those who are demanded by the clubs, the club has to call us."
Wenger has fielded questions over his captain's future for years and is no doubt bracing himself for another summer of speculation. Fabregas' Catalan roots make him an obvious target for transfer gossip but his manager believes that La Liga lacks the competitive edge of the Premier League.
"I cannot see anybody who has a competitive edge to [want to] go to Spain," said Wenger.
"They have two good teams, I confess that. The No 3 is 27 points behind. This weekend the players go on strike because they are not paid [in the lower divisions]. It is a league that is in complete disarray.
"I don't know why you want absolutely the best players who play in England to go to Spain. If you are really competitive, you stay in England. That is where the competition is and that is where the best players want to be.
"I have so many calls from Spanish players who want to join us and want to come here that I cannot understand [the media's] persistent campaign to get our best players away from England."