Barcelona may be counting on Cesc Fabregas, but as we head towards August, Manchester United fans are still counting the days until David Moyes' first major signing.
A summer of frustration looks set to continue. With Tito Vilanova's resignation confirmed, new Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has been quick to dismiss any rumours of the Spanish midfielder's exit. Speaking in his first press conference as Catalan boss, Martino seemed relaxed about Fabregas' future, as reported by The Telegraph:
I'm not going to involve myself in the club's accounts, but considering the club has already rejected two offers, I would guess it will reject a third. In other words, Fabregas will remain here.
Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu was more forceful with his response to questions regarding Fabregas. He remains adamant the player will stay at the Camp Nou and suggests the 26-year-old is a key figure heading into the 2013-14 season, as reported by The Telegraph:
Whatever offer United make, however big, we will say no. Cesc Fabregas will stay a Barcelona player.
That United shows interest in Cesc Fabregas is normal. He is a truly great player. It doesn’t annoy us. It gives us pride to have such a good player in our team, that United want him because they are a great club.
But whatever offer arrives from them we are not going to sell Cesc Fabregas. We are counting on him.
While Moyes had previously confirmed his bid to sign Fabregas was ongoing, the aforementioned quotes and two failed attempts leave United in a hapless position. As reported by BBC Sport, a £30 million plus add-ons deal has already failed. This kind of money matches Fabregas' current value, but if United are to have any chance of landing the Barcelona native, they will have to pay over the odds.
This throws up a huge problem. Moyes undoubtedly needs to make a marquee signing before his first season in charge at Old Trafford. He also must ensure value for money and not be bullied into spending a ridiculous amount on one player (unless Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo become available).
The Scotsman's quest to sign Fabregas is a curious one. United are rarely this noisy in public when trying to land a top player and are known for keeping intentions locked up before a deal is negotiated. Although social media accelerates rumours beyond the truth, Moyes is conscious of letting United followers know the club is trying to sign a world-renowned name.
At a time when the Premier League champions are rumoured to be losing Wayne Rooney, this kind of promise is extremely important. Sky Sports reports new boss Jose Mourinho's calmness amidst Chelsea's bid to land the English forward, and like the Portuguese manager, Moyes needs to show he is in control of a transfer situation that has the potential to irk frustrated supporters. He needs to stamp his foot.
The public discussion of a potential Fabregas deal allows him to do that. United fans—who may be fearful of losing a player like Rooney—have somewhere else to focus their attention. Being linked to Fabregas' world-class qualities is enough to appease the individuals looking for exciting investment. With Martino and Bartomeu's comments confirmed, Moyes is now wasting his time.
United have seen potential transfer targets continually evade them this summer. Despite intense Twitter speculation, Sky Sports confirms Thiago Alcantara was never heading to Old Trafford. Sky Sports also reports Kevin Strootman's move to Roma, while The Telegraph reveals United's bid for Leighton Baines was turned down. Whatever the reason, United fans have so far endured a summer of great disappointment.
Moyes needs quickly to salvage a transfer window that is leaving many in the lurch. Fabregas has now become an unrealistic target and lost cause. Barcelona don't need the money, especially with Thiago Alcantara's sale to Bayern Munich confirmed, and will not be pushed into parting with their star.
Being linked to Fabregas' name may appease the Old Trafford faithful, but Moyes' failure to ultimately land the World Cup winner will have followers reminiscing of Eden Hazard, Lucas Moura and Ronaldinho. Fabregas will be the next in a long line of players who got away.
After all the speculation, Moyes' best bet is in a place he knows rather well. A certain afro-haired destroyer remains at Goodison Park; a player who addresses Manchester United's main needs far more readily than Fabregas.
Most importantly, someone like Marouane Fellaini would realistically join Moyes' cause.