Fabregas inches closer to exit
Barcelona finally appear on the verge of bringing Cesc Fabregas back to the Nou Camp, with Arsenal reluctantly ready to accept less than their own valuation.
The Gunners remained steadfast in their demands over a £40million fee for the club captain but with the European champions unwilling to improve significantly on their initial £27million offer, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitting the player was unsettled, it now appears as if the club will have to broker a cut-price deal to move on.
The package is reported to include a downpayment of 30million euros (£27million), with an additional 6million euros (£5.2million) in performance-based add-ons at a later stage and there are also suggestions Fabregas is prepared to wave the £4million compensation he would be entitled to for the remainder of his long-term Arsenal contract, as technically the player never asked for a transfer.
Fabregas had, officially at least, been struggling for match fitness because of a hamstring injury which saw him miss the club's Asian tour and other pre-season games, while Wenger omitted his captain from the Emirates Cup.
Were Fabregas, 24, to feature in next week's first leg of Arsenal's Champions League play-off against Udinese, the midfielder would be ineligible for any other side later in the competition.
Fabregas joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003, and has made more than 300 appearances, scoring 57 goals.
However, despite winning both the European Championship and World Cup with Spain, club success has not followed for the midfielder, who missed the Gunners' shock Carling Cup final defeat at Wembley through injury and Arsenal winger Andrey Arshavin accepts there is little any club can do when a player has his heart set on a move away.
"The policy of our club [next season] is the same, but it is difficult to say anything specific now, not least from the fact that two leading players, Cesc and Samir, have not decided their future," Arshavin said in an interview with Russian newspaper Sport Express.
"The loss of any one of them would be enormous, and we naturally want to see Cesc and Samir play with us in the future - but if the player wants to leave the club...
"It is hard to say [whether they will stay]."