The paradox of Arsenal’s Fabregas deal

Cesc Fabregas Barcelona

Manchester United are preparing to up their offer to Barcelona for former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.

According to reports the Premier League champions will stop at nothing to sign the former Gunners skipper. Initial reports suggested United made an opening bid of £26 million for the Spaniard, triggering a condition of the deal that saw the 26-year-old midfielder head to the Camp Nou in 2011 which would grant Arsenal the first right of refusal should the Catalans opt to sell him.

Barcelona vice-president Josep Bartomeu has officially denied the former Arsenal favourite is for sale and assured fans of the Spanish champions that the club would not listen to any offers.

United chief executive Ed Woodward has flown back to the UK whilst the manager David Moyes remains with his squad on their pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia.

Moyes revealed that Woodward is responsible for taking care of United’s transfer business and they are hopeful a deal with Barcelona can be struck in the near future.

Arsenal are understood to have a £25 million buy-back clause and the first right of refusal if he is to be sold but that becomes relatively meaningless if the player does not wish to sign for them.

It is understood that Fabregas would, of all options, prefer to remain at Barcelona, his boyhood club, and has no present interest in returning to England unless, and this is crucial, Barcelona wish to sell him. That’s what he said.

Barcelona are officially denying that he is for sale but clubs do that all the time – they could just be bluffing to ensure they get the maximum fee possible for a player that they wouldn’t be against letting go.

Meanwhile, another clause stipulates that Arsenal would receive 50% of any sell-on fee so Barcelona are unlikely to recoup much of the £35 million they spent on the player in the first place.

Manchester United are now reportedly willing to offer £40 million to sign him. Conceivably, if Arsenal refuse an offer to sign him for £25 million, they could make £20 million out of the deal, raising his sale price overall to £65 million since 2011.

The fans, however, would hate to see him sign for United – that’s the only certainty in this whole situation – but the club have often prioritized financial gains over fans’ satisfaction in recent years.

If Arsenal opt to sign him and take their first right of refusal and the player agrees, the Gunners would still have made effectively a £10 million profit from loaning him (that’s what it would equate to) to Barcelona for the past two seasons.

If, however, they opt to appease their bank manager instead of the fans, they make huge profits and it’s now well documented how much Arsenal like profits.

If United are persistent enough, I sense that Barcelona will give in to at least negotiating but I would hazard a guess that, having spent £35 million on him and given that they will only be in receipt of half his transfer fee, they will want a lot more than £40 million – I would imagine they’d settle for £50 million although that’s obviously pure conjecture.

The paradox is that the higher United are prepared to go, the more lucrative it becomes for Arsenal to say ‘no’ to re-signing him. Why would they spend £25 million when they could potentially make £25 million instead?

images: © ins11thiago, © Ines11thiago

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