By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger has strongly refuted rumours that Cesc Fabregas has played his last game for Arsenal, adding that those who leave North London tend to regret it.
Over the weekend, the Spanish international was, yet again, linked with a transfer to Spain in the summer. Having cracked a bone in his leg a fortnight ago against Barcelona - ironically, a suggested target - a move would mean the midfielder's seven-year career with Arsenal was already at a close.
However, speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to Tottenham, Wenger put forward robust reasoning why his skipper would stay.
"Some people try to be specialists at making players unhappy," said the manager. "But up till now, all of the players who have left have wanted to come back so that means they are not as unhappy as they sometimes look.
"I believe that this team is on the way up. We don't work for four or five years with young players, stand up for them, let them come through and, when they are ready to perform, sell them. That would be irresponsible. But I cannot stop them from talking in Spain."
Apart from the emotional arguments, Wenger also put forward some grounded reasons why Fabregas would still be at Emirates Stadium next season.
"You want to see the length of his contract?" asked the manager. "The players who are at the end of their contract can sign where they want but, with the players under contract, we decide on their future.
"We are not under any financial need, we are well-managed and that gives you one luxury in that you can decide about the future of your players.
"Secondly, we want to be a better team next year than we have been this year and that means we always want to keep our best players."