Manchester United Transfer News: Cesc Fabregas Pursued as Barcelona Target Koke

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2014

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, left,  duels the ball with Carlos Alberto Sanchez Moreno during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Martinez Valero stadium in Elche, Spain, on Sunday, May 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Manchester United are reportedly leading the way to sign up Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, with the Catalan giants prepared to let the midfielder go for £30 million, per Matt Law in the Telegraph.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said last week "Barca do not want to sell Fabregas," per Daniel Feliciano of Sky Sports.

However, it is now being reported by Spanish newspaper Marca, via Ben Burrows in the Mirror, that United—along with Chelsea— are in the driving seat to snap up the 27-year-old Spanish international who is looking for a return to the Premier League.

The report claims the Red Devils are ready to offer Fabregas a substantial pay-rise in a deal worth €6 million after tax, while the Blues are not prepared to offer quite so much to the former Arsenal man.

The Gunners could have some influence over Fabregas if he is to move, as they have first refusal on the player, but Arsene Wenger is not planning to bring him back to the Emirates, per highly respected Spanish football writer Guillem Balague:

Balague also confirms that Barca are indeed looking to move Fabregas on, reportedly to fund the arrival of Atletico Madrid's young midfielder Koke:

The 22-year-old Koke scored six goals and provided 13 assists as Atleti won their first La Liga title since 1996, beating Barcelona into second, and new Camp Nou boss Luis Enrique likely sees the Spanish international as a terrific long-term prospect.

Former Chelsea player Tony Cascarino believes United need someone like Fabregas after a torrid season saw them finish seventh in the Premier League, per Nick Rostron-Pike on talkSPORT:

Manchester United desperately need someone like Fabregas. They need someone to replace Paul Scholes. Michael Carrick is fantastic on the ball but Cesc just gives you a little bit more. He’s 27 years old now and has been in and out of the team at Barcelona. He’s not cemented a place in that side. He should be playing week in and week out.

He would certainly add quality as well as goals to a poor United midfield, having netted eight times and provided 13 assists in La Liga last season, per

Early reports suggested that the Red Devils would likely have to fight off local rivals Manchester City for Fabregas' signature, per John Cross in the Mirror

However, these rumours were unfounded according to the Daily Mail's Ian Ladyman and The Guardian's Daniel Taylor.

But United may still be facing competition from Liverpool for the midfielder, with Brendan Rodgers apparently eager to sign Fabregas ahead of the Reds' return to the Champions League next season, per Charles Reynolds in The Independent.

United will no doubt be weighing up their options concerning Fabregas' worth, but with no European football to offer next season they will have to work hard if they really want to bring the player in.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

Another midfield target of United's, James McCarthy, is reportedly to be offered a salary hike by Everton to attempt to keep him at Goodison Park.

According to Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, the Toffees are prepared to double the 23-year-old's pay to £50,000-a-week.  

The £13.75 million 2013 signing from Wigan was a key part of Everton's highly successful fifth-place Premier League campaign last season, providing solidity in the middle of the park that is lacking at United, as Sky Sports' Graeme Bailey notes:

However, the Old Trafford hierarchy will seemingly have to work hard to prise the Republic of Ireland star away from Everton.

United need a wholesale rebuild after a shocking season, especially in the midfield areas. Fabregas is a long-term target of theirs and would provide star quality in midfield.

However, McCarthy is arguably the more important signing as he is the type of player who could bring up an often disorganised midfield at the Manchester club.