The futures of Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Samir Nasri will be clarified in the coming weeks, with much riding on the ever entertaining internal politics at Barcelona. The heavily indebted European champion claims to have a summer transfer budget of just €40 million, but with a deal for Sanchez still on the agenda and Fabregas increasingly likely to move, something is likely to give. More importantly for Manchester United supporters, Barça’s business will directly impact Sir Alex Ferguson’s planning this summer.
Deals for both Sanchez and Fabregas will have consequences for a selection of Barça’s squad players too, including 20-year-old Bojan Krkić, whom the Catalan giants are reportedly willing to sell for €10 million in a token effort to balance the books.
Barça’s attempt to use another youngster, Jeffrén Suárez, as bait in a Sanchez deal failed, with the player unwilling to join Udinese. The failed opening bid is unlikely to stop Pep Guardiola’s adding two outstanding midfielders to his side’s already plentiful options. The transfer maneuvering comes despite the Catalans picking up €21 million owed for Zlatan Ibrahimovich. The message is clear: Barça must sell to buy this summer.
Closer to home, the merry-go-round may yet have consequences for United, with Ferguson back from his annual French holiday to oversee the club’s search for central midfield creativity. With deals for Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea all inked, United retains more than a passing interest in Arsenal’s contract-rebel Nasri.
Thiago Alcântara, the Italian-born Spaniard of Brazilian parentage, was reportedly also on Ferguson’s radar as a fall-back option until the youngster signed a new deal at Camp Nou on Wednesday. In truth there seemed little in the reports. United’s interest in Nasri is seemingly more concrete, having hardened as potential for deals on Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder closed.
Yet with Arsenal preparing to let Fabregas go according to every pundit this side of the Pyrenees the Londoners will feel compelled to offer Nasri a contract hike to more than £100,000 per week. It is figure within reach for United but exclusively Fabregas’ domain at the Emirates. Whether the Frenchman is willing to stay at the post-Fabregas club is as yet undetermined but the News of the World‘s, claim that the player’s predilection is now for a move north this summer will be noted at Old Trafford.
Only a bid will flush out the truth of course and Arsenal’s hand may be forced should United actually make a reported £20 million move this week. After all, Arsenal faces the very real prospect of losing 24-year-old Nasri for nothing in a year’s time when his contract ends.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is talking a tough game. The Frenchman can do little else with few options now left open regarding Fabregas except to negotiate the price.
“One thing’s for sure: we’re not selling him to Manchester United. We are trying to extend his deal,” claimed
Wenger last week. Whether majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agrees is another matter; losing a multi-million pound asset for nothing is surely unacceptable.
For United Nasri’s capture would provide the icing on a profitable transfer cake this summer. Driving a wedge between Wenger and his board merely the cherry on top.
Elsewhere Manchester City has admitted defeat in the club’s chase for Sanchez. While the Abu Dhabi-backed outfit upped the bidding to a reported £32 million – a figure that Chelsea is prepared to match – Sanchez’ representatives have made it known that a move to Camp Nou is the only option on the cards.
Barça’s opening £22 million offer plus Jeffren increased today, with the bid reported to now be £24 million guaranteed, rising to £36 million based on player performance targets. It is, said a spokesperson, a final non-negotiable offer.
“We are waiting for a response from Udinese,” a Barça spokesperson told Spanish news agency EFE today. “Barcelona made a definitive offer for the player and we will not change the parameters indicated.”
Meanwhile, Fabregas will join the Chilean winger in Catalonia having left the Arsenal board in no doubt about the player’s priority this summer. To that end Barça is reported to have made a renewed offer of £35 million on Wednesday, with the end game now in sight.
Of course, Barça’s transfer shenanigans is of passing interest to United, although the club sent a delegation to Udinese a fortnight ago. That chief executive David Gill came back empty-handed on a player Ferguson has tracked for more than three years is indicative of the club’s continued unwillingness to enter pan-European bidding wars.
There is, after all, a financial food chain in place, which in part at least explains Nasri’s new-found attractiveness at Old Trafford. The Frenchman is potentially obtainable where Modric is not without forcing Tottenham Hotspur’s hand with a premium bid. Similarly, Sneijder’s fee and wages package would mean a total commitment of more than £80 million for a player that turns 27 in the coming season.
It could yet go wrong for Ferguson. Should Arsenal play hardball on Nasri, United’s midfield options will appear narrower than ever.