Finally, after what seems like years, the Cesc Fabregas transfer to Barcelona seems close to completion. After extensive negotiations, the Catalan club seem to have finally found a price which they are willing to pay for the brilliant Arsenal playmaker.
Barcelona may have saved a few million, but at what cost to the reputation of their football club?
The club's famous motto is "Mes que un club," which, translated into English, means "More than a club."
This claim seems to suggest that Barcelona are somehow better than other football clubs due to their nobility. Instead, it seems to translate into an arrogance, and this sense of entitlement has shone through during their pursuit of Fabregas.
The farcical pursuit began during the 2009/10 season, when Fabregas suggested he would be interested in a move to Barca.
Since then, Barca players Xavi (multiple times), Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol, Lionel Messi and David Villa have all urged Fabregas to join them at the Nou Camp or criticised Arsenal for not allowing Fabregas to depart.
A selection of the finest quotes from Barcelona include,
"Arsenal will end up giving in, but I don't know when that will be," Joan Laporta, then Barcelona Club President
"I do not feel a football club should keep a player who wants to leave. Especially in this case, where Cesc has done everything for Arsenal," Gerard Pique, Barcelona centre back
"He (referring to Fabregas) has to end up here," Xavi, Barcelona vice-captain
"I am convinced Cesc will join us. Arsenal are tourist class. Barcelona are business class and any player would want to join us," Dani Alves, Barcelona right back
As these quotes show, Barcelona seem to feel that any player would want to sign for Barca, and Fabregas' arrival is inevitable, showing a complete lack of respect to Arsenal.
As if this was not enough, when Spain celebrated their 2010 World Cup triumph, Pique and Puyol (assisted by Pepe Reina) bundled Fabregas into a Barcelona shirt, which shows just how public the club's pursuit of the player had become.
Aside from this constant hounding of the player (which, in fairness, has surely been encouraged somewhat by Fabregas declaring interest in a move to the club), Barca have also constantly refused to pay the transfer fee Arsenal are asking.
Of course, it is well publicised that Barca have large amounts of debt, so this could explain their refusal to pay.
Yet in the past two years, they have signed David Villa (£34 million), Zlatan Ibrahimovich (£56 million), Javier Mascherano (£18 million) and Dmytro Chygrynskiy (£20 million). Chygrynskiy and Mascherano weren't even brought in to be part of the first choice XI, whilst Ibrahmiovich was sold after just one season, so the club aren't exactly low on cash.
Their refusal to pay what Arsenal are demanding instead seems to stem from the fact that Fabregas was originally signed by Arsenal whilst part of the Barcelona youth team, and Barca now feel they have a right to take him back.
This is, of course, ludicrous. Fabregas has a long term contract with Arsenal, he is their best player and their captain. They owe Barcelona nothing. If anything, Barca should be grateful to Arsenal for developing Fabregas into the wonderful footballer which he is today.
Barcelona are a wonderful football team, the best in the world and perhaps one of the best there ever has been.
Their style of play deserves all of the praise it receives, but off the pitch, their conduct throughout their very public attempts to sign Fabregas has been far from commendable.