How similar will Manchester United's shopping list this summer look to last year's incarnation?
That is an interesting question to consider, especially when iUnited so publicly failed to sign many of their top targets nearly 12 months ago. Will David Moyes really risk further embarrassment by going back for players and to clubs who snubbed him so recently?
In the case of Cesc Fabregas, at least, it seems the answer could well be yes. Although United have also been given some prodding, with Barcelona reportedly informing the Old Trafford hierarchy that they would now consider bids for the 26-year-old.
Metro reported on Sunday:
United made signing former Arsenal captain Fabregas their number one priority last summer, but despite making three different bids, Barca refused to sell.
The deal eventually collapsed and United have been looking elsewhere, but less than 12 months later, it could be back on with Barca said to be ready to part with the midfielder.
According to various reports in Spain, Fabregas has been told that he will be part of a squad clear out this summer—and if a suitable offer arrives he can leave.
Fabregas has failed to impress since re-joining boyhood club Barca, having found himself playing out of position on many occasions.
United are thought to value the Spain star at about £25million and could now make a new bid at the end of the season, in the hope he can fill their creative midfield void.
Will United still be keen on Fabregas? While the signing of Juan Mata in January should in theory diminish the need for a creative type like Fabregas, the ex-Arsenal man would still offer more creativity and guile in midfield than the side currently has.
In short, at £25m, he would not seem to be a bad purchase.
Fabregas, too, may be willing to depart having become something of the fall guy for Barcelona over the course of this season. Frequently the odd man out for big games, or the first man substituted when things are not going well, Fabregas has been moved to the fringes a touch under Gerardo Martino.
The Spain international has previously expressed his pleasure at being links with top sides, while maintaining that he wants to stay at Barcelona as long as he is happy.
Speaking to Sport magazine (h/t Squawka) in March, Fabregas said:
All I know is, as a football player, when you are wanted by a club—especially the size of Manchester United‚ it’s always nice and flattering.
I always said I’m very happy at Barcelona, I feel comfortable here and I was playing well and I feel important to the team.
Is he happy now, though? That seems harder to be sure of.
Believability Meter: Medium
It does not seem hard to believe that Barcelona would be willing to sell Fabregas in the summer and, equally importantly, that the player himself would be happy to move on too. If that is the case, then everything would point towards a Premier League return.
That being said, would Fabregas really be willing to join United? While his Arsenal history is not necessarily a huge obstacle, the fact the midfielder has so frequently played up his links with his old club and expressed his support for them via social media perhaps indicates he would find it difficult to play for another English side.
It remains doubtful whether the Gunners would want to buy him back, however, with the cost likely preventing them from strengthening in other areas of greater need, which could leave Fabregas with a difficult decision to make.
In the end, though, he might decide to put his career before sentiment.
“I try not to get involved with those things," Fabregas told Sport, when asked about alienating Arsenal fans by moving to United. "I just see what my heart says.”