x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas edging closer to Barcelona move

Spanish and European champions propose a down payment of €30m, with an additional €6m in performance-based add-ons at a later stage.

Cesc Fabregas has been at the centre of one of football's longest running transfer sagas with Barcelona wanting to sign the Arsenal captain for some time.
Cesc Fabregas has been at the centre of one of football's longest running transfer sagas with Barcelona wanting to sign the Arsenal captain for some time.

LONDON // Barcelona finally appear on the verge of bringing Cesc Fabregas back to Camp Nou, with Arsenal reluctantly ready to accept less than their own valuation.

In what has become the most protracted transfer saga of recent times, the Gunners remained steadfast in their demands over a £40 million (Dh237.7m) fee for the club captain.

However, with the European champions not willing to improve significantly on their initial £27m offer and the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitting the player was unsettled, it now appears as if the Emirates Stadium club will have to broker a cut-price deal to move on.

The package is reported to include a down payment of €30m, with an additional €6m in performance-based add-ons at a later stage.

There are also suggestions Fabregas is prepared to wave the £4m 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.

Arsenal are also battling to keep Samir Nasri, who has yet to agree a contract extension, with Manchester City ready to offer £22m for the midfielder, who could leave on a free next summer.

Valencia midfielder Juan Mata is a long-time target of Wenger.

Andrey Arshavin, the Arsenal winger, 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]."

Wenger is determined to bolster his squad further following the £12m arrival of pacy forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton.

Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell is said to be close to a £1m move to Emirates.

Defensive reinforcements are top of the agenda, with a £6m move for Birmingham's centre-half Scott Dann said to be imminent after Arsenal failed to complete a deal for Everton's Phil Jagielka or Gary Cahill from Bolton.

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner, linked with Stoke, has yet to find a new club, while utility man Emmanuel Eboue is expected to sign for Galatasaray.

Wenger will be hoping his internationals return fit and well to London Colney from tomorrow, with reports Arshavin picked up a knock during Russia's friendly against Serbia in Moscow.

England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere are already doubts for Saturday's Premier League opener at Newcastle because of ankle injuries, along with striker Robin van Persie, who is carrying a similar problem.