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Pique and Iniesta expect Cesc to stay

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes that Cesc will turn down a move to Manchester United and will stay with the Catalan club

Cesc Fabregas’ Barcelona team-mates Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta both claim they are sure the midfielder will remain at the Camp Nou next season despite persistent interest from Manchester United.

Okwonga: United lacking dignity in market

United are understood to remain optimistic a deal for Fabregas can be reached despite Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta having claimed at the weekend that the English champions had accepted the player was not for sale.

Fabregas, 26, himself dismissed the possibility of a summer transfer while on Confederations Cup duty with Spain in June, but has notably declined to comment publicly since his return to pre-season training with the Catalan club.

Some have seen the whole saga as a ploy designed by Fabregas’ camp to force Barcelona to extend and improve their client's contract, which still has three more years to run.

Pique told a press conference in Bangkok, where Barca will face a Thailand XI on Wednesday, that he was confident Fabregas had no intention of moving on.

“He always looks very relaxed to me,” said Pique, a former Manchester United player and a member of the same La Masia youth team as Fabregas in the 1990s. “It is normal that a player of his quality has offers on the table but I can confirm that he is staying. It is his life's dream [to play for Barca], and I am very happy that he stays. It never seemed to me that he had any doubts.”

Fabregas’ reported ‘doubts’ over his long-term future at Barca had apparently centred on his failure to secure a regular starting spot, which apparently persist even with Thiago Alcantara having moved on to Bayern Munich.

Iniesta, who looks set to play more often in central midfield this season given €57 million signing Neymar’s presumed position on the left wing, said such competition for places was a positive and he was also sure Fabregas would stay.

"For me he is unquestionable, because I always think that my team-mates are the best,” he said. “Healthy competition between ourselves makes us improve each day. Cesc has performed to a very high level for us. I am convinced that he’ll be doing that again this season.”

Fabregas was a substitute during Barca’s 8-0 Gamper Trophy friendly win over Neymar’s former club Santos on Friday, when new coach Gerardo Martino started the game with last season’s regular first choice XI on the pitch. Both Neymar and Fabregas entered at half-time, with the former Arsenal man grabbing two superb goals in the rout.

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