Wednesday 21 February 2018

Barca losing patience in battle for Fabregas

Ben Hayward

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted yesterday that the Catalan club are losing their battle to sign Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.

The Spanish champions have been pursuing the Spain midfielder all summer and had a bid of €35m turned down before the World Cup.

New Barca president Sandro Rosell had hoped to wrap up a deal for the 23-year-old with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in South Africa but was left frustrated and Guardiola believes there is nothing more Barca can do unless the Gunners decide to do business.

"We want him to come but, if Arsenal don't want to negotiate, he won't come," Guardiola said yesterday as Barca's players reported back for pre-season training. The Barca coach also accepts that, if Arsenal do sell, they are likely to hold out for a big fee for their prized asset. "I think bringing in Cesc will cost a lot," he said.

Meanwhile, Guardiola paid tribute to Fabregas' former Arsenal team-mate, Thierry Henry, who left the Nou Camp to join the New York Red Bulls last week.


"Barca are grateful to all the players who have been at the club and even more to a player that has given us so much," Guardiola said. "Whatever happens, I will have good memories of Thierry and I hope things go well for him in New York."

Henry is one of several players to have left the club this summer, with midfielder Yaya Toure and defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy also moving on.

Chygrynskiy returned to Shakhtar Donetsk following a single season at the Nou Camp and, although the coach was reluctant to let the Ukraine centre-back go, the sale was necessary to balance the books.

"My opinion counts, but the needs of the club go above that and that's why he was sold," said Guardiola. "I would like to have kept him."

Guardiola also regrets losing Toure, who joined Manchester City in a big-money deal. "It's a big blow for us," he said. "I did everything possible to get him to stay and he's a popular player in the dressing-room, but he wanted to leave and there's not much I could do."

Guardiola is looking to bring in another defensive midfielder, but says that will depend on the possible arrival of Fabregas.

"We are looking at a player in the profile of Toure, although if we sign Cesc we can adapt him to that position and look for another more attacking player," he said. "It depends on the negotiations we have opened and the financial possibilities of the club."

Barca have already brought in two players this summer, with Spanish striker David Villa signing up from Valencia before the World Cup and Brazilian defender Adriano Correia joining from Sevilla last week.

"Villa can play up front or on the left wing. He is a player with great movement into space and he has always scored goals," Guardiola said. "Adriano can play left-back, right-back and on both wings -- I believe the club have made a great signing."

Guardiola has resolved his own future by signing a new contract to remain at the club for one more season. The Barca coach was offered a six-year deal but prefers to stick to shorter contracts. "I need to feel that things are working and that what I am doing is right, but if everything is going well and I feel strong, I will carry on next year," he said.

Guardiola is looking forward to the challenge of facing new Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.

"He is one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best, so the fact that he is coming to the Spanish league is good," he said. "We beat Madrid by three points last year (in the Primera Division) and because of small details.

"They will continue to be competitive and they haven't won anything for two years, so we'll have to keep improving.

"They have more zeros (money) than us, so we'll have to have more enthusiasm."

Irish Independent

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