Fabregas and Nasri set for crunch talks
Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are due back for pre-season training at Arsenal this week, with both players expected to seek talks with manager Arsene Wenger in which they will confirm their desire to leave.
Fabregas is required at the club's London Colney base tomorrow, even though Barcelona hope to conclude a deal before the Arsenal squad fly to Malaysia on Sunday for the start of their pre-season tour in Asia.
The two clubs have remained in communication since the rejection of an initial £27m bid, with Arsenal holding out for a deal that values Fabregas above £40m and Barcelona reluctant to go beyond £35m.
Nasri is not due back at training until Thursday but, after stalling on a contract offer from Arsenal that is worth £23.4m over five years, appears increasingly determined to leave this summer.
In an interview yesterday that risks antagonising Wenger, he pointedly said that winning trophies and having "a big career" was his priority.
Manchester United, who are ready to bid £20m for the Frenchman, have won eight trophies since Arsenal's last piece of silverware in the 2005 FA Cup final. "Money has never been my motivation," said Nasri. "I have always taken decisions from a football point of view. I don't want to sign for a club where I wouldn't be playing the football that I like. We already earn huge wages. The priority is to make a big career and to win titles. With no titles under your belt, you can't be in the list for the Ballon D'Or."
Manchester City, who are confident of signing Gael Clichy from Arsenal this week, and Chelsea are also both interested in Nasri. Although Arsenal are in a difficult negotiating position given that Nasri is in the final year of his contract, Wenger has already resolved not to sell one of his best players to Manchester United.
As is the case with Fabregas, he would ideally like to deal with a club outside of the Premier League, meaning that the interest of AC Milan cannot be discounted. It is understood, however, that Nasri is particularly attracted to the prospect of joining Manchester United.
Arsenal are well aware that they are likely to be quoted inflated prices for players if they sell Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri in quick succession, meaning they would ideally like to reinforce their squad before losing players.
The signing of Lille striker Gervinho is imminent and there is interest in Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba, Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Marseille and France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena is also under consideration as a potential replacement for Fabregas or Nasri.
There is competition from Inter Milan for Alvarez but Gervinho, an Ivory Coast international, is committed to joining Arsenal.
Arsenal are also poised to recruit Hector Bellerin, a 16-year-old full-back from Barcelona's academy.
Meanwhile, Liverpool yesterday confirmed the appointment of Kevin Keen, the long-time West Ham coach, as replacement for Sammy Lee, the former assistant manager who departed Anfield last week.
Keen has signed a three-year contract as first-team coach and will work alongside Steve Clarke as part of manager Kenny Dalglish's core coaching team. Though Clarke, who worked with Keen during Gianfranco Zola's disappointing spell at West Ham, holds the same title, the Scot can expect to be the more senior of the two.
Keen had been part of the coaching staff at Upton Park for nine years, including three spells as assistant manager. The most recent came on the final day of last season, as Keen oversaw a 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland.
Keen will begin work on Merseyside today, as the majority of Liverpool's squad return to Melwood for the start of pre-season training. Only the club's Copa America representatives, Lucas and Luis Suarez, and those afforded an extra rest after their involvement in the European U-21 Championships, including £16m signing Jordan Henderson, will not be present.
Alberto Aquilani, Nabil El Zhar, Philipp Degen, Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic will attend -- evidence of the work awaiting Dalglish in the transfer market. (© Daily Telegraph, London)