ARSENE WENGER claims it was Cesc Fabregas who snubbed a return to Arsenal.

The Frenchman had previously insisted Arsenal had not taken up their option to buy the midfielder back from Barcelona in the summer because the Gunners already had enough midfielders.

But yesterday Wenger muddied the waters, setting up Fabregas for a hostile reception on his first return to the Emirates on Sunday as a Chelsea player.

"I believe his decision was already made," said Wenger.

"I personally believe that deal was done a long time ago, early 2014. I didn't speak to him directly.

"I was informed that he might go to Chelsea, but when I was informed I thought the deal was already done."

Pressed on whether he had rejected the chance to re-sign Fabregas, Wenger added: "We will have to discuss that one day.

"With all the terms, it's not as clean as that. I cannot speak to you about that now because that will not help us to win the game on Sunday."

Chelsea paid £30m for Fabregas last summer, £5m more than he would have cost Arsenal.

But Starsport understands Fabregas' first option WAS a second stint with the Gunners, the club he first joined at 16.

He also had the chance to go to Manchester United, but opted for Chelsea as he wanted to be in London.

Wenger insists Arsenal fans should not give Fabregas a hard time on Sunday, where a Chelsea victory would leave them needing just one more win for the title.

"I want every player to be respected, and Cesc Fabregas when he comes to the Emirates on Sunday to be respected like he deserves," he added.

Meanwhile, Wenger insists Arsenal's 22-goal striker Alexis Sanchez is a worthy rival to Chelsea's Eden Hazard for the player of the year awards.

"He had a big impact and let's not forget that for Hazard it is not the first season but for Alexis it is," he said.

"So he will give him a fight and if Alexis doesn't make it this year, he will give him a fight as well for next season. Alexis is necessarily my choice because he is my player.

"I think everybody would agree that Hazard had a great season. He has found maturity that he did not have before.

"I believe his final ball is better, his personality on the pitch is stronger, the finishing aspect of his game is much better than before.

"He can turn games when it's 0-0 and when it's tight. That's always a sign of top quality."

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