Just as Arsene Wenger thought he had fought off Barcelona’s vocal attempts to prise Cesc Fabregas away from Arsenal, the Catalan giants have launched an improved offer in a final bid to get their target.
The Gunners had looked certain to secure the services of the Spain midfielder after Fabregas was told to stay by manager Wenger, following an open training session at the Emirates yesterday.
6/1 title challengers Arsenal’s hopes of winning silverware for the first time in over five years largely hinge on the 23-year-old’s presence in the Londoners’ squad, but Barca are determined to test Wenger’s resolve to the limit by putting together a £42million proposition.
The Gunners have been steadfast in their resistance to a deal since rejecting a £29million bid from La Liga champions (4/5 to retain their title) at the start of June and Wenger has refused to contemplate losing his star man this summer.
Blocking out the noises coming from the Nou Camp over Fabregas has not been easy, though, with a procession of players declaring their desire for the World Cup winner to join them in Spain.
That pursuit has not endeared Pep Guardiola’s side to many people, with an apparent desperation making odds of 3/1 to win the Champions League look less attractive than they once did.
Financial limitations mean Barca’s offer must be structured over several installments, with at least £4m being linked to successes on the pitch, and as such it seems likely Wenger can rebuff this bid too.
The Frenchman would settle for nothing less than the kind of up-front fee Real Madrid paid for Galacticos Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, meaning Fabregas should take the field against Liverpool in Arsenal’s first game of the season, which the Gunners are 15/8 to win.
The last time Arsenal lifted silverware was in 2005 when they won the FA Cup. On that occasion another talismanic midfield captain wearing the number four was key, with Patrick Vieira scoring the winning penalty in a shoot-out. If Cesc stays he has a 7/1 chance of repeating history by winning the FA Cup with Arsenal.