YOU cannot blame Cesc Fabregas for having his head turned by the greatest football team on the planet.
The Arsenal captain has never made a secret of his deep love for Barcelona or his ambition to go back there one day as one of the Nou Camp's top stars.
And the World Cup-winning midfielder admits he was tempted to join the Catalan Super Club.
Last night, though, Fabregas was forced to concede that his dream return to his home-town team was not
going to happen.
But he did not sulk, he did not complain, he did not walk out. He took it like a man.
And he immediately pledged himself to the Gunners anew and vowed to do his utmost to help bring the Premier League title to the Emirates.
In an exclusive SunSport interview, Fabregas revealed all about the emotional tug-of-war between the two clubs closest to his heart.
Fabregas, 23, explained: "This whole situation only arose because it is Barca and I have never made any secret of what that club means to me.
"Who would not be flattered when the world's greatest club and one of the world's best managers are desperately trying to sign you?
"I would be lying if I said that joining a club like Barcelona was not an attractive move for me.
"Remember this was the club where I learnt my football, it is my home town where my friends and family are and a club where I have always dreamed of playing.
"And, let's be honest, there are not many players in the world who would not want to play for Barcelona."
Fabregas then told how he was on tenterhooks as the Spanish giants twice made massive bids to try and prise him away from Arsenal - only for the Gunners to turn them down.
He said: "Barca made two big offers for me and that showed how much they really wanted me.
"But Arsenal showed how much they wanted to keep me by turning both of those offers down.
"Of course I felt bad for the Arsenal fans as I didn't know what was going to happen but today it has all become clear.
"The Barcelona deal is dead. It is gone now and I have to face up to that, to accept it.
"And I can do that, I will do that."
Fabregas now insists he will quickly shake off the disappointment of the collapse of his move back to Barca and will kick off the new campaign as keen as ever to succeed with Arsenal. He added: "The bottom line is Arsenal wouldn't sell, which is their prerogative because I have a long contract with the club.
"I am a professional so I know and understand that. I am a professional and I will respect that. I am a professional and so I remain totally committed to this club.
"Anyone who thinks I will no longer try my best for Arsenal just does not know me.
"I have strong feelings for this club too - I owe a lot to this club, the manager and the fans.
"That's why I will respect their decision and will now concentrate on the new season ahead with Arsenal.
"I can assure all the fans that I will be 100 per cent focused on playing for Arsenal just the same as always. All I am thinking of now is helping Arsenal to a successful season.
"So I will carry on trying to play at my very best to help us try to win every game."
Fabregas added: "I had lots of heart-to-heart talks with Arsene Wenger throughout all of this.
"Some of them on the phone, some of them face-to-face.
"They will always remain private but it is fair to say that he really believes Arsenal will make a strong challenge for the title this year.
"I really hope he's right.
"I'm an ambitious person and I have only won one trophy in my seven years at Arsenal - and that was the FA Cup.
"That's not a good enough return and we need to address that and urgently."
Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/Fab_Column/3085484/Cesc-Fabregas-on-his-summer-transfer-turmoil.html#ixzz0w12LfDt1