There were two expressions on the faces of Arsenal fans on Thursday when it was announced that Cesc Fabregas had signed a new eight-year deal at the Club.

The first was a broad smile at securing one of the world's great up-and-coming talents. The second was a raised eyebrow at the unusually long length of the contract. At 19, the Fabregas future looks blindingly bright but loss of form or fitness can affect anyone at any time. 

However, in Arsène Wenger's eyes the deal secures the structure of Arsenal's gameplay for years to come. The Frenchman has built teams on midfields that retain the ball and produce snappy, accurate, intelligent passes. Despite his tender years, Fabregas has become a superb exponent of this style.

"The game that we play we need the consistent presence of the important players," said Wenger on Friday. "You cannot rebuild the team with five or six changes every year. The way we want to play needs a good understanding that is why we did this contract.

"Although 2014 looks a long time when you think about it at the end of his contract Cesc will be just 27."

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20 Oct 2006