Barcelona midfielder Xavi has risked infuriating Arsenal by expressing his ambition to play with Cesc Fabregas at the Nou Camp and claiming his Spain team-mate has "Barca DNA".
Fabregas started his career at the Catalan giants before Arsene Wenger recruited him as 2003 as a 16-year-old - but he has consistently been linked with a return to La Liga since establishing himself in the Premier League.
"I especially hope that Cesc comes. He is a football player with Barca DNA and he is showing at Arsenal that he is on another level," Xavi told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.
As the player of the tournament for Euro 2008 and being highlighted as the crucial component of last season's treble-winning Barca team, 29-year-old Xavi is viewed as an influential figure at his club and his comments could be seen as increasing pressure on the Arsenal captain to move.
He added: "I'd like to play with him, I've always said that in the national team I link up with Cesc very well, despite the fact that many say we can't play together. We demonstrated in the final of the European Championship that isn't true.
"I would love him to sign and that we could play together at Barca. Clearly, a lot of his career is ahead of him and I think that in the future will be at Barca."
Wenger has dealt with speculation about Fabregas in previous seasons and will be hoping a transfer saga does not sour his 13th year in charge, making the Frenchman Arsenal's longest-serving manager.
Long-serving Arsenal director Ken Friar has suggested Wenger has a job for life at the club.
"We will all be very, very sad when the day comes when Arsene decides he's had enough," he said on Arsenal.com. "We will never have enough of him and he will be welcome here with his lovely wife and daughter forever.
"They are now part of the club's history. Arsene has engraved himself on the club forever and that I think is the greatest tribute to anybody. The fact that, no matter how many years go by, Arsene will always be remembered. That cannot be said about many people."
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