Arsenal have reluctantly told their captain Cesc Fabregas they are prepared to sell him -- but only for the right price and to whichever non-English club offers the most money as Real Madrid entered the picture.
Sources in Spain claim Fabregas is becoming increasingly frustrated with Arsenal's stance, having earlier in the summer been led to believe his move to Barcelona would be sorted out before the start of pre-season training.
Fabregas (24) reported at Arsenal's training ground yesterday but did not join the rest of the team for a double session, instead undergoing strengthening work on a hamstring injury.
Fabregas has already rebuffed advances from Manchester City, having set his heart on a return to Barca, the club he left in controversial circumstances in 2003 at the age of 16.
Barcelona bid £27m two weeks ago, which was immediately rejected by Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who values Fabregas at £40m. Arsenal are hoping interest from Madrid will force Barca to increase their offer.
Fabregas has ruled out moving to Madrid but Arsenal don't see why they should be forced to accept a lower offer from Barca if Real will pay more.
With Arsenal happy to play the two off each other, Fabregas is left in limbo, hoping Barcelona make an improved offer and break the impasse. A year ago, they failed with £29m and £31m bids for Fabregas, who decided to stay with Arsenal for one season, on the understanding the club would not stand in his way again this summer. However, Real's interest in Fabregas has altered the dynamic and swung the bargaining position back in Arsenal's favour, much to the annoyance of Fabregas.
The picture has also been muddied further by a disagreement between Arsenal and Barca over the Gunners' recruitment of midfielder Jon Toral and right-back Hector Bellerin, both 16, from the famous La Masia academy. They were both offered professional terms by Barca, but opted to follow the route taken by Fabregas and signed five-year contracts for Arsenal instead.
Arsenal paid around £300,000 in training costs for each of the players, who were signed earlier this year. Barca, however, are claiming they should be paid around £6m in compensation and are using that as a bargaining chip in an attempt to lower the price for Fabregas.
Arsenal are also being stubborn over the situation concerning contract rebel Samir Nasri, who has rejected a five-year extension worth £90,000 a week to his current deal, which runs out next year. Manchester United are expected to bid for the French midfielder.
But Arsenal are insisting on £25m if they have to sell him to another Premier League club. Manchester City, Chelsea, Internazionale and AC Milan are all monitoring Nasri's situation closely.
Arsenal hope to confirm this week the signing of Ivory Coast striker Gervinho from Lille for a fee of around £12m. However, it seems they have lost out to Inter on midfielder Ricardo Alvarez. (© Independent News Service)