Manchester United continue to test Barcelona's resolve.
The Premier League champions—who recently saw rumoured target Thiago Alcantara join Bayern Munich—are letting money speak with an ambitious attempt to land Cesc Fabregas. After having an initial £25 million bid rejected by the Catalan giants, the Red Devils returned with an improved offer of £30 million plus add-ons, as reported by Sky Sports.
This news comes at a vital time for United’s supporters. Fans have been forced to sit back and watch as many of the club’s rivals improve their squads with high-profile signings.
Manchester City have worked hard across the summer to secure the transfers of Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas. Chelsea have brought in talented youngsters such as Andre Schurrle and Marco van Ginkel, while Brendan Rodgers has managed to keep Luis Suarez and bolster his Liverpool squad.
Many of Europe’s elite continue to throw money at the nearest talent, suggesting United are playing catch-up in an extremely competitive market.
These days, confirmed interest in a world-class individual rarely progresses without a hitch. As the United faithful know too well, the interest of other clubs soon galvanises when a player is up for grabs. Sir Alex Ferguson’s failure to land Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura is testimony of this, with Thiago’s move to Germany also adding to a long line of mishaps.
A potential deal for Fabregas is different.
For once, United have taken the initiative. David Moyes has publicly confirmed they are hunting the Spanish midfielder, as reported by the club's official website. There is no uncertainty as to whether the manager is actually trying to bring the former Arsenal captain back to English shores. False rumours don’t need to circulate on Twitter, and for once, United fans know where they stand.
The improved offer forces other potential suitors of Fabregas into a difficult position. As reported by ESPN, Arsene Wenger is on alert now his former player’s future seems unclear. In a summer that has seen the Gunners focus on bringing in a lethal forward—namely Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez or Wayne Rooney—the distraction of having to consider a Fabregas homecoming is unwanted.
If the 26-year-old is to complete an Arsenal return, it’s now or never for Wenger. Like the 2012 transfer of Robin van Persie, once Fabregas has worn United red, the Emirates door closes forever. Although Arsenal fans have a confident sense that Fabregas would rather rejoin the North London side than line up for Moyes’ men, an Old Trafford move is certainly more appealing than many believe.
As Yahoo! Eurosport’s Desmond Kane writes, Arsenal’s first refusal means nothing if the player sees his future elsewhere:
Arsenal struck an agreement with Barcelona over the sale of Fabregas in August 2011 that gave them first refusal on the player. But that clause is in itself meaningless if the player refuses to return. This now seems a possibility.
There will be no point in Arsenal offering the £25m buy back fee agreed with Barca if Fabregas does not want to come back.
Like RVP and many before, Fabregas will want to join a club that has a recent history of winning silverware. Wenger's men continue to slump and haven't secured a trophy since the 2004/05 FA Cup penalties win over United. As much as Gunners fans wish to overplay Fabregas' sense of loyalty, the Barcelona midfielder needs to be competing for top honours in the run up to the 2014 World Cup.
If David Moyes' improved bid is accepted, he has the chance to do that at Old Trafford. Such an offer may prove too tempting for Barcelona to pass, especially as Fabregas isn't guaranteed first-team football with the arrival of Neymar.
This transfer could prove to be a moment of opportunism for the Premier League champions. Right now, the improved bid is a wise move that puts Barca and Fabregas' other admirers in trouble. As an opening gambit from Moyes, Manchester United fans should be majorly impressed.