Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona coach, claims Arsenal have agreed to negotiate the sale of Cesc Fabregas to the European champions.
Barcelona coach Guardiola given green light to go for Cesc Fabregas
Barca were rebuffed by Arsenal in their pursuit of Fabregas 12 months ago but are hoping to persuade the Gunners to part with the midfielder this summer.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Guardiola was quoted as saying on the Barcelona website: "We were interested last year, but Arsenal did not put him on the market. This year they've agreed to negotiate and we will try to reach an agreement."
Guardiola added: "You all know about Barca's interest in Cesc. There is money set aside for this player and until the last day we will try to bring in Cesc because he will make the squad better. I hope that something can be sorted. Until August 31 there is time, but at times things don't always work out."
Guardiola also spoke out against the possibility of Fabregas, who missed Arsenal's Asia tour to nurse a troublesome hamstring, forcing his exit from north London, saying: "I think that Cesc has to do what Arsenal ask. For me I wouldn't like one of my players to say 'now I'm not training because I want to go'."
Andoni Zubizarreta, Barca's sporting director, said about the interest in Fabregas: "The position towards Arsenal is one of maximum respect because the club own the player. Also towards the player [himself].
"From there, our position is to try and see eye to eye, creating proposals that may be of interest, while always maintaining the maximum respect. We don't have a style of doing things by force."
However, while Fabregas is near the top of Barca's wish-list, Guardiola believes strengthening the attack is the most pressing matter. With the club set to sell Bojan Krkic to Roma, the coach said: "The priority is an attacker.
"Bojan and Jeffren [Suarez] both want to leave, so the attack is more important. The number of games on the calendar is scary," said Guardiola, whose team will add the Club World Cup in Japan to their domestic and European schedules this season.
Alexis Sanchez, the Udinese forward, is Barca's No 1 target and Guardiola said the Chilean's versatility suited an offensive system which requires the forwards to constantly exchange positions to make a short passing game click.
"[Sanchez] is a young player who can play in all three positions in attack," Guardiola said. "He was the best fit for the profile of player we were looking for. We hope we can be lucky enough to bring him here."
Zubizarreta said a deal with Sanchez's Italian club was "in the final stretch".