Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger Hits Back At 'Fishing' Jibe From Former Barcelona President Joan Laporta

But Barca are the best team in the world, says Frenchman
Arsene Wenger insists that there is nothing wrong with the way Arsenal went about signing skipper Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona in 2003, after the Catalan club's former president Joan Laporta accused English clubs of "fishing" for talent in their camp.

Fabregas has for some time been linked with a move back to Barca, and has in the past admitted that he intends to play for the club of his youth someday.

But for now, he remains a Gunner and will lock horns with his former club when the two sides meet in the first leg of the last 16 in the Champions League.

"It's part of the game," Wenger told reporters. "Where do they get their players? Where does [Lionel] Messi come from? Barcelona? [Newell's Old Boys in Argentina] At what age did they take him? Twelve years old.

"There's no reason for any bitterness because we did nothing illegal. Everything was legal. We did not force a gun somewhere. We respected the rules. They could come and take our players, we accept that as well."

Laporta had previously said: "The English come here to do fishing. They came to fish for [former Manchester United and current Barca defender] Gerard Pique and Cesc."

However, Wenger said: "They take their players from all over the world. Don't expect them only to get players from Catalonia.

"And you must remember that every young player in Catalonia wants to play for Barcelona. Not every young player in London wants to play for Arsenal.

"Some want to play for Tottenham, some for West Ham, some for Chelsea and some for QPR. In Barcelona they don't have the same choice."

The Frenchman also admitted that Barcelona are the best club in the world, but expressed a belief that his charges would be able to dump the Spanish heavyweights out of the Champions League.

"Barcelona are certainly the best team in the world at the moment," he said. "They're the best club team I've ever faced. And any club team at the top level is better than every national team. I would not deny this Barcelona are one of the best teams ever but my team wants to show we can beat them. I believe personally that we can do it.

"Barcelona are certainly the team to beat if you want to be the best. If we knock Barcelona out, we straightaway have a good chance to win the tournament. It is until now the toughest test for us in the European Cup."

Wenger will also hand young goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny a debut in the Champions League, and said: "It's a big game for him because you think that once or twice he may have to do something tomorrow. He's not fazed by anything, which is very important at the top level. He doesn't give you the feeling that he's nervous in goal."

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