(soccernet) Arsenal have reached an “agreement in principle” with Barcelona for the sale of captain Cesc Fabregas, both clubs have confirmed.
Despite Arsenal insisting throughout the summer that they would not sell Fabregas for less than £40 million, it is thought that a £35 million fee has finally been agreed.
Manager Arsene Wenger said: “We have been clear that we didn’t want Cesc to leave and that remains the case. However, we understand Cesc’s desire to move to his home town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success.”
Fabregas, who joined the Gunners from Barca as a 16-year-old in 2003, will now agree personal terms and undergo a medical on Monday before sealing his return to the Nou Camp.
The midfielder’s move will bring an end to a saga that sparked into life last summer when Fabregas told Wenger that he wanted to return to his boyhood club. Wenger stubbornly refused to let the Spain international leave at that time, but just over 12 months later he has given up on the battle to keep the wantaway star.
It has been suggested that Fabregas is willing to take a pay cut in order to force through the move, underlining his desperation to join the Champions League winners.
He played no part in Arsenal’s pre-season campaign or their Premier League opener at Newcastle, with Wenger citing a lack of focus and a niggling injury.
Fabregas, who has won 58 caps for Spain, winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, made 303 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 57 goals in all competitions and claimed the record for youngest first-team player and goalscorer.
His departure will increase the pressure from fans on Wenger to use some of the transfer fee to bring in a big-name signing before the end of the transfer window. Shakhtar Donetsk claim that Arsenal have shown an interest in Brazil international midfielder Jadson, while Wenger is known to be keen to add a central defender.
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will be able to hold on to France international Samir Nasri, a target for Manchester City and a player who the Londoners could lose on a free transfer next summer when his contract expires.
Ordinarily Nasri would have been earmarked as the natural successor to Fabregas in a central role but, with his future up the air, Wenger may be forced into the transfer market.