While Barcelona has secured the financing to bring Cesc Fàbregas back to the Nou Camp, the Spanish champions' early off-season attempt to lure their trainee home may have poisoned the waters bridging Catalonia and north London, making a deal this summer impossible. That is what Sandro Rosell, Barcelona's new president, has said about the club's attempt to acquire the Arsenal captain.
Rosell took over as club presidency on July 1 and has since been dealing with a financial problems that prevented players from being paid in June. Those problems resolved thanks to the securing of a €150 million loan, the club has been able to devote more attention to spending its €50 million transfer budget. However, the assumed target of that money, Fàbregas, may be unavailable, with Arsenal having been turned-off by the manner in which Rosell's predecessor, Joan LaPorta, tried to acquire the midfielder at the end of his term.
Rosell, who met with Arsène Wenger at the World Cup in South Africa, met with a surprising amount of resistance from the Arsenal boss:
Rosell told Catalan TV3: "Arsenal feels very hurt by Barça. They don't want to listen to offers or sell and they are not putting the player (Fabregas) on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it."
Wenger is understood to have exchanged angry words with Rosell when the pair met in South Africa during the World Cup. The Barcelona president instigated the meeting but was surprised at the strength of Wenger's feeling about the Spanish club's behaviour.
Arsenal's turn is unfortunate, from Barcelona's perspective, as the price quoted for Fabregas falls within Barcelona's new-found means:
Rosell also revealed that Arsenal want £60m for Fabregas, who still has five years to run on his contract. Reports in Spain last night suggested that figure was the one that had been indicated to Fabregas when he spoke to Arsenal before the World Cup, using the £80m transfer fee that Real Madrid paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo a year ago as a guide.
The Ronaldo transfer is starting to serve as a direct analog for the Fàbregas saga. The Portuguese star was courted heavily by Real Madrid in the summer of 2008, with Manchester United refusing to sell. Manchester United went on to win their third straight English Premier League title but, shortly thereafter, sold Ronaldo to the Spanish giants, a sale that garnered speculation that the deal had been in place some time before the summer 2009 transfer.
Rosell comments about the inevitability of Fàbregas's Nou Camp arrival further play into the analog:
Rosell said Barcelona will not be making the kind of bid that Arsenal want, but predicted that sooner or later they will get their man and Fabregas will return to the club.
"He (Fabregas) will arrive, even if it is not now, it will be next year," said Rosell. "We will see. One thing that is certain is that we will not go mad trying to sign him.
"No shareholder would pay €60m or €70m for him. We will not go all out for him. We would only pay his value in the transfer market."
But if the analog holds, Fàbregas will be in London for one more year, and this year's transfer saga will have ended. However, with seven weeks left in the transfer window, Fàbregas may yet find himself contributing to Barcelona's attempt to retain their league title.