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Fabregas set to force Barca move

CESC FABREGAS has once again expressed his desire to leave Arsenal and join Barcelona.

However, the Arsenal captain may have to play hard-ball to get his wish.

Barcelona have made it clear that are not prepared to meet Arsenal's £48m valuation of the midfielder and have lodged a take-it-or-leave-it £30m offer.

Fabregas' representatives indicated yesterday that no talks are imminent. He has four years to run on his existing deal, which puts Arsenal in a strong position, but sources close to the player feel he is ready to force the issue by lodging a transfer request.

Barca have failed to sign their former player in each of the last two summer transfer windows, but Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna believes it could be a case of third time lucky.

"I can say it's true that Cesc wants to go to Barca," said Sagna. "Fabregas wants to return to his country of birth, to his city, where his family are; he wants to play for one of the best teams in the world, Barcelona, and that's understandable. At the moment, however, he is still Arsenal's captain."

While Sagna believes Fabregas may leave London, the defender is hopeful Samir Nasri will stay at the English club. "Samir is happy at Arsenal, but I don't know what the best thing is for his career," he said.

"He has been one of the best players in the team this season and he is one of the symbols of this team. I hope to find him there when we return for (pre-season) training."

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has told fans he shares a "profound disappointment" with them and has promised a busy summer in the transfer market as the Gunners look to end their six-year trophy drought.

What had been a quadruple bid imploded once they lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham, and they ended the Premier League season in fourth place.

Another season without success saw some fans voice their unhappiness with manager Arsene Wenger, especially over his apparent reluctance to spend big on new signings.

At a question and answer session with the Arsenal Supporters Trust, Gazidis pledged to start putting things right.

"Coming off the end of the season, I share with you a sense of profound disappointment," he said. "It is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of players.

"Some new signings will be coming in and some of our existing squad will be going out. As Arsene has said, it will be a busy close season for the club.

"But also it is important to recognise that it has not been a disaster.

"We have a young squad and we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. The trick will be to identify which parts to keep and which parts to turn over. And we will do that within our financial capabilities."

Meanwhile, Darron Gibson has agreed terms with Sunderland and looks set to complete a £5m move to the Stadium of Light later this week.

The Ireland midfielder's advisors have struck a deal with Steve Bruce and the move from Manchester United will be completed in the coming days.

The 23-year-old Derry native has admitted that he needs to leave Old Trafford in order to play more first-team football.

His transfer should please his Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who has in the past encouraged Gibson to move in order to improve his game.

The Black Cats launched a £12m triple raid of Old Trafford with bids for Wes Brown and John O'Shea also accepted, but neither has as yet agreed a move.

Bruce's son Alex could be set to change allegiances from the Republic to Northern Ireland after holding talks with Nigel Worthington.

The Leeds player has played twice for Ireland in non-competitive internationals but has been out of favour with Trapattoni and may reverse the recent trend of Northern-qualified players switching to play for the Republic.

Irish Independent