The Sweeper: Arsenal in pole position should Barcelona sell Fabregas

The Gunners would be informed should the Catalans consider selling the midfielder, but the Spain star wants to prove himself at Camp Nou next season


Arsenal have explored utilising the first-option clause inserted in Cesc Fabregas’ Barcelona contract this summer, The Sweeper understands.

Sources have said that Arsene Wenger has been talking on the phone “quite a bit” with his former captain during the domestic break.

Discussions are believed to have centred on Fabregas’ willingness to return to the club where he spent eight successful years and blossomed into one of Europe’s outstanding young midfielders.

The 26-year-old’s progress has stalled during his two years back at Barcelona, prompting fevered speculation about a return to the Premier League.

Arsenal have a fixed price on Fabregas’ buy-back clause, believed to be €29 million, and, should another club make a concrete offer for the midfielder, Barca would be obliged to inform the Londoners, who would then be given first refusal.

However, Fabregas has been equally as bullish in private as he has in public about wanting to prove himself at Camp Nou, the club where he emerged through the ranks before joining Arsenal as a 16-year-old.

Sources close to the midfielder are confident he will begin next season as a Barcelona player and that any possible return to England is on hold until 2014 at the earliest.

Manchester United, who are closing in on the signing of Fabregas’ club and international colleague Thiago, had considered a bid for the former Gunner but Arsenal remain in pole position to capture the player if he cannot nail down a starting place in the Barca first team.

Wenger’s admiration for Fabregas has not been diluted by the manner in which the midfielder engineered his exit from Emirates Stadium and the Gunners boss has retained an excellent relationship with one of the most successful signings of his 17-year Arsenal reign.

– Wayne Veysey

HOW MANCHESTER CITY BAULKED AT ISCO AGENT FEESManchester City appear calm after missing out on Spanish sensation Isco to Real Madrid.

The Premier League runners-up were prepared to go as high as €29m but were not prepared to pay some of the add-ons the player’s camp demanded.

Reports are emerging Isco’s handlers, which include his father, could pick up about €7m in fees and bonuses over the lifetime of the five-year deal he has signed at Santiago Bernabeu.

City pulled out of a €39m deal for Eden Hazard last summer when the agents demanded a €7m fee.

– Paul Clennam


It is six weeks since the transfer window opened and Arsenal have yet to announce any new signings.

But that is likely to change at the start of next week, when the club’s army of coaching and backroom staff, led by manager Arsene Wenger, return to work at the training ground following a month-long summer break.

The first tranche of senior players will return to training three days later on Thursday, although this will only include those not involved in summer internationals, such as Mikel Arteta. Those players who have figured for their countries will have phased returns, with each permitted a break of at least three weeks.

Arsenal are likely to start the month by announcing the signing of France Under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre, who completed a medical at the club at the start of June.

The club will also press ahead with tying up deals for a number of senior targets, including Gonzalo Higuain, Marouane Fellaini and Julio Cesar.

– Wayne Veysey


Tottenham have made excellent use of the loan market in recent years, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Stephen Caulker and Andros Townsend able to hone their games while enjoying productive spells at rival Premier League clubs.

But Spurs have also seen deals collapse because of the rule which limits top-flight clubs taking a maximum one player on loan from the same club during a season.

In a bid to prevent a repeat of the situation on deadline day in August 2012 in which Jermaine Jenas was forced to abandon his proposed flight to the north-east to join Sunderland after his then colleague Danny Rose had already completed a loan switch from White Hart Lane, Tottenham have proposed an amendment to Premier League rule V.75.

Spurs want clubs to be allowed to take two players on loan from the same club during a season provided the loans take place in different windows.

The Sweeper understands that the proposal had the support of the Premier League board of directors when it was put to them at their meeting in London on May 7.

It is believed that the board will not object to Spurs’ amendment if it is formally put forward by the London club, heralding an imminent change in the loan rules.

– Wayne Veysey

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