Francesc Fabregas, the 17-year-old midfielder who has created a big impression at Highbury this season, has signed a long-term contract with the English champions.

Fabregas, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona in September 2003, stood in for injured captain Patrick Vieira for the opening matches of the current campaign, impressing observers with the maturity of his performances.

“My first year here has been like a dream, I never thought I would have the opportunity to play in the first team so early on,” he told the Arsenal website.

“But I’ve worked hard and will continue to do so, learning from the best players around – I’m very excited about my future here.”

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, believes Fabregas has a big future at the club.

“Cesc has shown great maturity since he joined, and has adapted well to the pace of the English game.

“He is a playmaker, someone with real vision and he has all the ingredients to be a big player for us.

“We have a young team with good experience, and Cesc is very much a part of the future of the club.”