Almunia hails icon Cesc

Gunners shot-stopper commends rising star

Fabregas: Barca target

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Manuel Almunia says Cesc Fabregas is crucial to Arsenal's quest for silverware amid rumours he may leave for Barcelona.

The Gunners shot-stopper also admits he is surprised to hear members of high-standing at Barca discussing a possible move for the young captain at this stage in the season.

Barcelona presidential hopefuls have made clear their interest in Fabregas, who joined Arsenal as a trainee in July 2003.

Although Almunia admits it would be difficult for his fellow countryman to snub a return to his boyhood club, he believes that such a decision would be incredibly hard for him to make.

Interest

"The presidents and people at clubs talk too much," said Almunia. "They are in the press much more than they should be.

"In England, I have never seen the directors in the press and so it is strange for me."

He added: "Nobody has any doubt that Cesc gives everything to the game.

"He makes tackles and fights, this is the only thing that people can expect from him."

Almunia believes Fabregas has become an icon at the North London club and a rising star under Arsene Wenger's influence.

"For the supporters, Cesc is a symbol of the club," he said. "For the people, he is the best.

"I have no doubts that he loves the club and Arsenal in general. If he has to go, and I don't know anything, he will be very sad."