Concerns over Wenger future after Fabregas demands Barca switch
Cesc Fabregas has finally made up his mind to quit Arsenal this summer and join his boyhood club Barcelona in a £30m move that could have huge implications for Arsène Wenger's future.
The proposed deal is so significant that the Arsenal hierarchy are concerned that the transfer could even affect Wenger's future at the club.
Fabregas' likely exit could make it difficult to persuade Wenger to sign another contract -- his deal runs out in July next year.
Following a pursuit of Fabregas by Barcelona that has lasted three years in earnest and has built in pitch this summer, it is understood that the 23-year-old has finally informed his advisors that he wants to leave Arsenal. He will tell Wenger personally before he departs with the Spain squad for the World Cup finals.
The midfielder would like to leave with the blessing of the club but is sufficiently determined to go that he will put in a transfer request if he has to.
In April, Fabregas is understood to have had his wages increased to £110,000 a week, though he will be aware that Lionel Messi, with whom he played for Barca youth, is on £200,000 a week, a figure he could come close to matching.
Fabregas has four years left on his contract and Arsenal will demand a record transfer fee for him but Barcelona have budgeted for £30m and think that sum is fair for a player Wenger snatched from them as a teenager.
Fabregas joined Arsenal in 2003 for what was a nominal compensation fee having spent six years at Barça's academy and has blossomed into one of the best midfielders in the world.
Barcelona feel that, morally, Arsenal are obliged not to ramp up the price for a player who they took for virtually nothing.
The speed of the deal will hinge on whether Wenger acquiesces to his captain's wishes to leave. It will be the second time in the space of three years that Wenger has bid farewell to his captain and star player -- Thierry Henry left for Barcelona in 2007.
Sources close to Fabregas have indicated that he has much the same concerns about Arsenal's future as the supporters. After finishing 11 points behind the champions Chelsea in the Premier League this season and with all the other title contenders likely to strengthen over the summer, Fabregas does not feel that they have the capacity to compete for major trophie. He asked Wenger to name names when it came to potential signings, and it seems Fabregas didn't like the answers he was given.
The deal could involve the Barcelona midfielder Yaya Touré moving to Arsenal but no detailed discussions have yet taken place. Crucial to the north London club will be how Wenger regards the sale of his key player and how that affects his attitude towards signing a new contract. He had a moment of indecision this time last year when Real Madrid showed a keen interest in him.
Fabregas is also adamant that the move is not about money because he could earn significantly more if he was to pursue approaches from Real or Manchester City.
He feels that he has given Wenger's project to build a young team enough time and after rejecting Barcelona's offers for the last three years wants to return there.
The deal is being overseen by the outgoing Barcelona president Joan Laporta who will step down after serving the maximum three terms in office. He wants to deliver Fabregas and Valencia striker David Villa before the next election on June 14.
Fabregas is currently recovering from a broken leg that he sustained against Barcelona in the Champions League home tie on 31 March. He has been named in the provisional Spain squad for the World Cup despite not yet being match fit.
Toure would add weight and presence to Arsenal's midfield but there are other candidates including another Spaniard, Everton's Mikel Arteta, who would carry an asking price of between £12 and £15m.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are moving closer to signing Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh in a five-year deal worth £50,000-a-week. (© Independent News Service)
Players who have left Arsenal since 2005
(The last year that Arsenal won a trophy)
2005: P Vieira (Juventus, £13.7m).
2006: R Pires (Villarreal, free), J Reyes (Real Madrid, loan, then £10.8m), D Bergkamp (retired), S Campbell (Portsmouth, free), A Cole (Chelsea, exchange).
2007: T Henry (Barcelona, £16m), M Flamini (Milan, free).
2008: J Lehmann (Stuttgart, free), A Hleb (Barcelona, £11.8m), G Silva (Panathinaikos, £1m).
2009: E Adebayor (Man City, £25m), K Touré (Man City, £14m).