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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Arsene Wenger denies renewed Cesc Fabregas speculation

Arsene Wenger insists he will not consider selling Cesc Fabregas to Real Madrid or Barcelona as the Spanish midfielder is key to his future planning at Arsenal.

Fabregas is once again being touted as a transfer target for La Liga's two biggest clubs with the Spanish press dubbing Real Madrid's interest in the midfielder as "Operation Cesc".

But speculation has accompanied the future of the Arsenal captain ever since his decision to swap Barcelona for Arsenal at the age of 16 and the latest round of paper talk does not concern Wenger.

"We have a long-term plan to be a winning team - and Cesc Fabregas is part of that," Wenger said. "We have worked very hard with all of our players, and they all have a very long contract commitment.

"Here we have sport as priority number one. We can keep thinking like that because we have a healthy management and are ot in financial need. I have always fought for the club to be in a strong financial position because I feel in any decision we make must have the footballing interest of the club first."

Arsenal were even reported to be involved in a potential swap deal with Real Madrid that would involve Gonzalo Higuain heading to the Emirates Stadium. Meanwhile, the club have also been linked with moves for the likes of Crystal Palace youngster Victor Moses and Lazio forward Mauro Zarate.

Wenger admits he has been bemused by some of the stories regarding his reported interest in a number of players across Europe.

"Speculation goes well at the moment. Sometimes people are very creative and imaginative," Wenger said. "I have a big respect for the press in general, but some people are just not serious.

"They sit behind their desk and they think 'what kind of stupid idea can I create' and the next day you have to answer that stupid idea. That is not really serious."

With Holland striker Robin Van Persie sidelined for most of the remainder of the campaign, Wenger is keeping an "interested eye" out for possible replacements. However, with Nicklas Bendtner on the comeback trail from a groin injury and England international Theo Walcott also set to return from a side strain, Wenger does not believe his squad are too light in attack.

"If I find a really good opportunity we will do it but, for the rest, wait and see," he said. "If we have Bendtner, [Carlos] Vela, Eduardo, [Andrei] Arshavin and Walcott coming back available, then we have quite a good number of strikers. We can be a bit more relaxed."

Wenger had previously stated that the severity of Bendtner's groin injury would determine the scale of his January spending and the news on Friday was that the Danish striker is just two weeks away from a return to action.

"He is doing well in training and had a good session today, so the news is quite good," said Wenger. "I would say he could be back in two weeks."

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