After years of speculation, Cesc Fabregas looks set to return to Barcelona as Arsenal announced that an agreement has been reached in principle that would send the club's captain back to the Nou Camp.

The transfer is subject to completion of formal legal agreements as well as Fabregas agreeing to personal terms and passing a medical.

Fabregas, 24, joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003 as a 16-year-old and has not been shy about his desire to one day return to his boyhood club.

"We have been clear that we didn't want Cesc to leave and that remains the case," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said via the club's website. "However, we understand Cesc's desire to move to his home town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success."

Since joining the Gunners eight years ago, Fabregas has accumulated 303 appearances and scored 57 goals in all competitions. He holds club records for the youngest player to feature for the Arsenal first team (16 years and 177 days) as well as the youngest first team goal-scorer (16 years and 212 days).

Fabregas has also featured for the Spanish national team, making 58 appearances to date.