Barcelona are aiming to sign Cesc Fàbregas within a fortnight but Arsenal’s decision whether to sell will not be determined by the probable arrival of Ricardo Alvarez, another attacking midfielder.
Fàbregas is expected in Catalonia on holiday this week ahead of his scheduled return to training at Arsenal on July 5 and pre-season tour to Asia the following weekend. But, before then, Barcelona are likely to test Arsenal with a further bid of around £31?million for their captain.
They have already had one offer of £27?million turned down and, while Arsenal were adamant last summer that they would not consider a valuation below £45? million, there is a hope at Barcelona that a compromise can be reached at around £35?million.
Everything is likely to depend on the attitude of manager Arsène Wenger and whether he gave Fàbregas any private reassurances last summer when he turned down two Barcelona bids.
Publicly, Wenger has always sounded confident that Fàbregas will stay. From Arsenal’s perspective, there is the sense that he has much more to give the team.
Fàbregas has played for Spain in the European Championship, Confederations Cup and World Cup during the past three summers, with Arsenal hoping to benefit from his first proper rest since 2007.
The signing of Alvarez is likely to be announced in the next week, with a deal for Gervinho, the Lille striker, also understood to be close. Arsenal want two more centre-backs, with Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka among the options.
Wenger has also said that he wants Gaël Clichy to stay and has confirmed that the club have begun talks on a new contract with their left-back. Arsenal are also about to resume negotiations with Samir Nasri.
Arsenal’s general transfer policy has been to invest heavily in the player contracts of the existing squad but pay relatively less on transfer fees. This policy will be further supported by a new £25?million property deal with Barratt Homes to build 700 flats on the Queensland Road site opposite the Emirates.
This money will eventually be available to Wenger for players and contract renegotiations, but will be staggered over several years, so there will no immediate increase to the current budget of around £40?million.