Arsenal could thwart United's Fabregas pursuit by triggering £25m buy-back clause
Manchester United are confident of capturing Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas after lodging a £26m bid for the former Arsenal captain.
United manager David Moyes has made the strengthening of his midfield options the top priority of his summer recruitment plans and the Scot has moved for Fabregas after previously considering the credentials of the Spain U-21 captain Thiago Alcantara and Real Madrid's Luka Modric.
Moyes is also considering a move for Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, having chosen to pursue both a creative and attacking midfielder, but the Belgian is a fall-back option should an unknown target prove beyond United's reach.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are expected to reject United's opening offer for Fabregas and Moyes could yet face competition from Arsenal should Arsene Wenger choose to trigger a £25m buy-back option on the 26-year-old he sold to the Spanish champions two years ago.
Arsenal are understood to have other targets, however, and are unlikely to thwart United's efforts should Barcelona be open to the prospect of selling the player.
United, yet to add a major signing to their squad since Moyes succeeded Alex Ferguson as manager, are understood to have made the offer for Fabregas yesterday following Thiago's decision to reject a move to Old Trafford in favour of a transfer to Bayern Munich.
Fabregas had reportedly been unhappy at the Nou Camp after failing to impose himself on Tito Vilanova's team last season. But when asked about the prospect of leaving the club earlier this summer, Fabregas appeared set against a transfer away from Barcelona.
"I've always said that I'm happy at Barca," he said. "Whoever says that I'm leaving doesn't know me and has never spoken with me. Nor with my agent, because he knows that I don't want him to talk with other people about me. I'm very private and I don't even talk about these things with my family. If someone says anything that isn't that I want to play at Barca, it's completely absurd."
While Fabregas is known to be unprepared to push for a move, the player accepts that his position will change considerably should Barcelona encourage United's interest.
The Premier League champions were given confidence last month that a move for Fabregas could be successful and, after considering Thiago and Modric, Moyes has now sanctioned a move for a player who made more than 200 appearances for Arsenal in eight years at the club.
While Thiago's decision to sign for Bayern had been viewed as a blow to United, Moyes is believed to have harboured doubts over the youngster's ability to thrive in the Premier League, while Modric's age – the Croatian will be 28 in September – counts against his prospects of moving to Old Trafford.
Moyes, who is in Sydney on the Australian leg of United's five-game pre-season tour, lodged a £12m bid for Everton defender Leighton Baines last month, but no progress has been made on that deal since the Merseyside club rejected United's offer. A move for Fellaini could prove less problematic, however, with the Belgian available for £22.5m due to the terms of an escape clause in his contract.
Moyes is determined to reinforce his midfield options and although he continues to pursue other targets, Fellaini's escape clause has made him an attractive option, with a perception at the club that the 25-year-old has the potential to develop into a top-class player capable of delivering more than 10 goals a season at Old Trafford.
With United also opening contract talks with Belgian youngster Adnan Januzaj in an effort to thwart interest from Barcelona and Juventus, Moyes and new chief executive Ed Woodward now appear to be accelerating squad reinforcement and the safeguarding of young talent as the season approaches. (© Daily Telegraph, London)