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Saturday 24 June 2017

Barca baulk at price tag of 'unfulfilled' Fabregas

Mark Fleming

Barcelona president Joan Laporta last night suggested Arsenal were overpricing Cesc Fabregas because he had left them for next to nothing six years ago and had won next to nothing in the way of major honours since.

With Barcelona's £30m evaluation of Fabregas still £20m short of the sum Arsene Wenger wants to receive for his talisman, Laporta said: "We are not going to pay more than we think is normal and logical.

"You have to take into account what he has won and the needs of both clubs. There are various ways of coming to the right price for a player who was raised by Barcelona."

The insinuation from the Barcelona president is that Fabregas was already formed as a player when he was whisked away by Wenger in 2003 and that, having won nothing more than an FA Cup medal since, it would be unreasonable to ask for more than the £30m Real Madrid paid for Xabi Alonso last season.

Arsenal are unlikely to be moved by calls for them to lower their asking price as some sort of delayed compensation for taking Fabregas so cheaply as a 16-year-old. They would also point out that Xabi Alonso is five years older than their player and therefore, unlike Fabregas, had no real sell-on value when Madrid signed him.

The stalemate is expected to run into next week when Fabregas will be in Spain's Madrid training camp.

Barca hope a steady flow of Fabregas interviews to the Spanish press repeating his preference to join them will make it increasingly implausible that Arsenal will keep him against his will.

Recent precedents, however, give some hope to Arsenal fans hoping he stays for another season -- David Villa's move to Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid and Thierry Henry's move to Barca were all delayed a year before being finalised, although Henry's last season in North London left some Arsenal fans wishing he had left the previous summer.

Laporta also stressed that Villa had not been brought in to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, insisting that the Swede is "not for sale".

Despite the public line, Barca are understood to have privately accepted that if a buyer can be found who is willing to pay the £150,000-a-week wages and the £40m price, they would not stand in the players' way. Manchester City could meet the financial needs but Ibrahimovic moved to Barca to win the Champions League and that could be a barrier to him reuniting with former boss Robert Mancini. (© Independent News Service)

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