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Frustration sets in as Fabregas deal hits delay

By Sam Wallace

Cesc Fabregas will not be on Arsenal's flight to Germany today for their pre-season training camp, as the club captain remains in limbo waiting to be told whether Barcelona have been successful in their efforts to bring him back to his boyhood club.

The same hamstring injury that prevented him from travelling to the Far East on the club's more commercially oriented tour earlier this month continues to be a problem for Fabregas.

Quite apart from whether Barca meet Arsenal's valuation of the player, it means he will miss the bulk of the pre-season preparation in a summer that has been full of frustration for the player.

For now the chances are that Fabregas will still be an Arsenal player when his team-mates return to play in next weekend's Emirates Cup against Boca Juniors on 30 July and New York Red Bulls the following day.

Barcelona are dragging their feet over a third bid, this time of £35m and Arsenal have told them they will not do business after the end of the month.

Whether they hold true to that promise remains to be seen, but what is not in doubt is that Fabregas, having reluctantly agreed to give the Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, one more season last summer, is determined to get his move back to Barca.

There is quiet despair in the Fabregas camp that Arsenal are proving so stubborn in their £40m valuation and that Barca are not prepared to push their offer closer. Wage demands of around £5.3m net a year are by no means modest and for a club labouring under a £400m debt, the investment in Fabregas would be substantial.

In the past Arsenal have managed to sell key players — notably Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry — with decorum and goodwill on both sides, but, with Barcelona and Arsenal still a long way apart and Fabregas set on the move, it may come to the point when the player feels he has to force the issue.

Arsenal's moves for Phil Jagielka, for a long time their first choice to partner Thomas Vermaelen, culminated yesterday in a £10m offer, which is nowhere near Everton's £20m valuation.

Belfast Telegraph


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