Arsenal continue to face a battle to hold onto captain Cesc Fabregas – with Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola vowing the Champions League holders will fight to the end to bring their former trainee back to the Nou Camp.
While there has been no formal statement from the Gunners and despite manager Arsene Wenger’s personal determination to keep hold of his key man, possibly even under improved terms, it appears inevitable Fabregas will leave before the transfer window shuts on August 31.
However, whether or not Barcelona will be able to stump up the £45m fee Arsenal demand for their 24-year-old skipper remains unclear, with Guardiola claiming money was set aside to complete the deal yet Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood maintaining no improved offer had been lodged from the Spaniard’s initial £26m enquiry at the start of the summer.
Whatever transpires, with the future of contract rebel Samir Nasri also not yet resolved, Arsenal fans and Wenger alike face a testing final few weeks of the transfer window.
Guardiola told a news conference: “They have agreed to negotiate and we will try to reach an agreement.
“There is money set aside for this player and until the last day we will try to bring in Cesc because he will make the squad better.
“I hope that something can be sorted. Until August 31 there is time, but at times things don’t always work out.”
Fabregas did not take part in Arsenal’s Asia tour, remaining behind in London to work on his fitness following a hamstring problem.
The World Cup winner may not also be included for Saturday’s friendly in Cologne, but new signing Gervinho could make the trip to Germany after finally completing his £11m move from Lille.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis maintains Wenger still has plenty of funds available should he wish to spend them.
The Gunners have been expected to bring in some more defensive cover, with Germany international Per Mertesacker and Bolton’s England defender Gary Cahill reported targets, while Valencia midfielder Juan Mata and Bosnian playmaker Miralem Pjanic, at Lyon, are both possible additions should Fabregas leave.
One deal, though, which looks set to have fallen by the wayside is for promising Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell.
The 19-year-old was all set for a £900,000 move from Deportivo Saprissa.
However, it now appears talks have broken down. The player’s father Humberto Campbell said: “We already decided not to sign anything yet, we are going to wait until the Under-20 World Cup finishes, so that Joel can go and play with calm and without pressure, then we will see what happens.”
Saprissa president Juan Carlos Rojas told La Nacion newspaper: “It is a disappointment for football, for Saprissa and for me that they have decided not to take up an offer from as serious and first-class people as Arsenal. I hope it works out for Joel.
“I assume his father thinks that things will get better and that’s why he made this decision, but hey, there’s always a risk.
“It’s a shame that Costa Rican football could not have a player at Arsenal at this time.”