Barcelona to test Arsenal's resolve over Cesc Fabregas

BARCELONA will test Arsenal s resolve over the future of Cesc Fabregas with their new president expected to sanction an increased offer for the Gunners captain this week. The Spanish club have already seen a �29m offer turned down flat on June 1 by the

BARCELONA will test Arsenal's resolve over the future of Cesc Fabregas with their new president expected to sanction an increased offer for the Gunners captain this week.

The Spanish club have already seen a �29m offer turned down flat on June 1 by the Arsenal board, who have stood firm on their stance that the 23-year-old midfielder is 'not for sale'.

However, Barcelona's new president, Sandro Rosell, officially takes over from the outgoing Joan Laporta on July 1 and the first piece of business on his agenda will be the Fabregas transfer.

The 46-year-old said on the eve of his takeover: "My idea is to work hard to make sure that Barca follows in the tradition of last few years and I have the experience as a director in negotiations and Fabregas is the priority.


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"I am sure that we can close the operation [to sign] Cesc. The relations between the two clubs has been very positive and we must make sure this does not damage those relations.

"Until July 1 we can't do anything as Laporta and his team remain in charge, but if negotiations are advanced and the coaching staff want the player, we will continue with the negotiations, without doubt."

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Barcelona have already spent �34m on signing Spain striker David Villa from Valencia, but they are expected to recoup a large part of that fee when Yaya Toure joins Manchester City in the next few days.

That would allow Rosell to contact Arsenal with an increased bid of �35m, but it is likely to be met with the same response from the Gunners' hierarchy.

Both Fabregas himself and Arsene Wenger have recently refused to comment on the issue, although Wenger did reiterate on French television at the weekend that 'Cesc is not for sale - at any price.'

But Fabregas will be set for talks when he returns from the World Cup and may even consider handing in an official transfer request if he wants to force through a move this summer.

Arsenal's position has not changed since the club released their only official statement on the matter at the start of this month.

"To be clear, we will not make any kind of counterproposal or enter into any discussion," read the statement. "Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word."

Meanwhile Barcelona have confirmed that former Arsenal captain Thierry Henry will leave the Nou Camp this summer, despite having a year left on his contract.

Henry, Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer with 226 goals, joined Barcelona for �16.1 million in June 2007 but has been allowed to leave 'by mutual consent'.

The French striker will be 33 in August and looks likely to follow David Beckham and choose to move to the American MLS, with New York Red Bulls his most likely destination.

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