Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United boss David Moyes closes in on Cesc Fabregas

United prepare a third bid of £35m for Barcelona midfield ace

By Simon Stone

Manchester United manager David Moyes says his desire to bring Cesc Fabregas to Old Trafford is alive and well, confirming a plot to prise him away from Barcelona is "ongoing".

The club have had a second bid for Fabregas, believed to be in excess of £30m, rejected by Barcelona in the last week.

The Spanish midfielder is still on holiday after being given an extended leave because of the Confederations Cup, and he missed Barcelona's 2-0 defeat at the hands of former manager Pep Guardiola and his Bayern Munich side.

United are expected to go as high as £35m for the player but if a third bid is rejected they may look elsewhere, with Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini in the thoughts of his former Goodison boss.

United, incidentally, found a novel way of launching their new away kit in Japan – but Moyes hopes there will be a familiar pattern to how the season unfolds.

In the shadow of the impressive 16th century Osaka castle, five United players were greeted by 10 samurai warriors in traditional dress. They looked a fearsome enough sight, although there was never any likelihood of weapons being drawn.

Instead, Moyes wants his players to take up the battle with Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal when his debut campaign as United boss is launched next month.

"Manchester United is a great football club that has been successful most years," said the Scot.

"The biggest strategy we have is to continue that. We want to be winners and with the group of players I have, I am sure that will happen."

The kit itself is similar to the away shirt of two years ago, except now the design is blue and black checks, rather than hoops.

Given their first opponents away from Old Trafford, Swansea, wear white, it is possible the shirt will get its first competitive airing at Liverpool on September 1, by which time Moyes will hope to have completed some key signings.

Moyes was more comfortable dealing with the latest fitness update, particularly as it was positive. Given the Scot has been condemned for the fitness work he has done with Robin van Persie after the Dutchman suffered a thigh injury during Tuesday's defeat by Yokohama F Marinos, it must have been particularly pleasing to confirm the striker should be involved against Cerezo Osaka today.

"We took Robin off as a precaution," said Moyes. "I would expect him to play tomorrow."

Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans were not involved with the main group.

Evans had an ice-pack applied to his ankle at one point, whilst Carrick was restricted to running only, although he appeared to be going at a fair pace. "Michael had a tight groin," said Moyes.

"He is feeling better now. He probably won't figure tomorrow but he should be OK to resume training at the weekend."

There was good news on the home front too, with three of the players who were not brought to the Far East and Australia, and another who was, but departed less than 24 hours after arrival, all stepping up their fitness work.

"There was a practice match at the training ground the other day in which Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia and Nani all got some playing time," he said. "Wayne Rooney is running and is probably at the level we would have thought he would be. He has picked up his work again this week."

Two defeats from three games is not exactly the best of tours results-wise for Moyes as yet. However, the form of Jesse Lingard, currently top scorer with three, and Adnan Januzaj has caught the eye.

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