KUALA LUMPUR, (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Monday he is hopeful Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will still be at the club for the forthcoming season amid fevered speculation both could be on their way.
Spanish midfielder Fabregas has been the subject of a reported bid from his boyhood team Barcelona, while French international Nasri has been strongly linked with Manchester City and Manchester United.
“Will he (Fabregas) be at the club this season? I said yes, and the second part will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I’m not the only one to decide that,” Wenger told reporters in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
“Look, I never speak about what is happening behind closed doors. I think Cesc loves the club and hopefully we will manage. We know the situation with Barcelona goes on for years now, we have to close that and for ourselves to focus on the season hopefully with Cesc Fabregas.”
Wenger and a 23-strong squad are in Malaysia for a friendly against the country’s national team on Wednesday. They will also play in China on Saturday before flying back to Europe.
Fabregas, 24, the Arsenal captain, has stayed behind in London as he recovers from a muscle strain.
The Arsenal boss was even more confident about midfielder Nasri.
“There is always speculation when the player has a one-year contract to go and has not signed a new contract that he might leave the club, but Samir Nasri is very happy at the club and he is committed to stay at the club,” he said.
Wenger insisted Arsenal, who finished fourth last season and were again without a trophy, would be contenders this time despite Wenger failing to splash the cash so far.
“The club has developed very well in the last 10 years with its structures and its quality of team, I think we are very close,” he said.
“We had a feeling that last year we were very close.
“Unfortunately, the season didn’t finish in a good way for us, but that should strengthen the resolve of the players and staff to come back and say ‘we know we can do it’, and this season we will do it,” he said.
Wenger said goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and striker Nicklas Bendtner did not join the Asia tour because they are “possible departures” and “talking to other clubs at the moment.”
Two other English Premier League teams — Chelsea and Liverpool — will also visit Malaysia for friendly matches this month.