Ball in Barcelona’s court – CUoCo (again)

Well there was much drama yesterday when the BBC ran an article telling us what we already knew.

They quoted a ‘senior Arsenal source’ talking about the future of Cesc Fabregas. He confirmed an official bid from Barcelona:

“The offer was made formally in writing to our chief executive (Ivan Gazidis), and we said no straight away.”

Then was asked if they were expecting another bid:

“Possibly. If it’s enough I expect we’ll have to sell.”

None of this is a surprise or new information, in any way, apart from the formality of Barcelona’s bid. It was thought they’d made a verbal offer which we had turned down. Either way, it was refused.

Now, as you would expect, the Catalan press have gone to town on this. Sport says ‘Signing imminent: Cesc will sign this week’, and on the cover they’ve photoshopped him into a picture of Barcelona’s ghastly new shirt with the Times New Roman Foundation logo. El Mundo is a little more reserved but insists that Cesc will not return to London for pre-season training.

Yet nothing has changed. Arsenal’s position is exactly as it was at the beginning of the summer. Meet the valuation we have of the player and we’re open to doing a deal. Fail to meet that valuation and there’s no point even talking about it. I suspect that the BBC journalist was deliberately fed the information by Arsenal to bring things to a head somewhat.

The ball is now very firmly back in their court. Arsenal have publicly stated that if Barcelona bid ‘enough’ then they’ll ‘have to sell’. It’s now up to Barcelona to come back with a bid that is enough. And the big question is are they willing to do that? Are they willing to spend the majority of their transfer kitty on a player they obviously want but, as long as Xavi is still ticking, don’t necessarily need just yet?

If they want him they’ll pay what Arsenal want. Cesc has a contract until 2015 and while the stance this summer is somewhat different from that of the last, it doesn’t mean that Arsenal will do a deal just for the sake of doing the deal. And I sincerely hope that whatever we do will be 100% in the best interests of the club. I do like the way we seem to be quite ‘human’ in how we deal with our players, those that are struggling or in need of a change of scenery get what they need/want.

Sometimes it’s nice, as per Eduardo last summer. Sometimes it’s not so pleasant, like Adebayor or Hleb (or before that Overmars and Petit, for example), but again those things all come down to us getting the right deal for the club. There’s simply no room for sentiment when negotiating a price for one of the best midfielders in the world, for the captain of our club and our most important and influential player.

What Cesc wants, Cesc wants, but that doesn’t mean we should sacrifice anything to ensure he gets it. At the end of the day he’s an Arsenal player, under contract, extremely well rewarded and that’s that. Unlike Nasri, for example, he hasn’t publicly agitated, has always said he’s happy at Arsenal and it’s up to the clubs. So if there’s no deal this summer then he’ll remain an Arsenal player and will do his best, the same way he has in the 300+ games he’s played for his since his debut as a 16 year old. I don’t buy the story that he’d go ‘on strike’, and not return for training, for one second.

That he comes from Barcelona and is a fan of the club has no bearing on things either. Nor does the fact Barcelona might feel aggrieved at the way he joined Arsenal. That was eight years ago, they need to get over that already. This is football, this is business, and ultimately money talks. If they spend enough, they’ll probably get what they want. If not, it will be something for Cesc to ponder, to question why if they push the boat out financially for other players they’re not willing to do it for him.

It seems Arsenal want some kind of conclusion to this whole situation though. Publicly putting it up to Barcelona like that means a resolution sooner rather than later. It’s a brave strategy really. Ivan Gazidis has to negotiate with Barcelona knowing that they’re the only possible buyer and in a summer when disenchantment is high to have the potential sale of the captain to deal with on top of everything else is quite something.

We’ll just have to wait and see how he does, the consequences/fall-out from any sale can be put on hold until it happens (or doesn’t), but it’s now down to officials and money men do their thing. While Barcelona might be easily the strongest on the pitch you wonder if off it we might just have the strongest team.

In other news, the agent and father of Juan Mata denied any knowledge of an Arsenal bid for his son yesterday, but said he’d be open to an offer from an us if it arrived:

I know Arsenal is a big club, a very important club in England, always in the Champions League, but it’s up to any club to pay the required amount to Valencia.

According to the Spanish press Valencia are saying he’s not for sale and they wouldn’t comment yesterday on possible contact from Arsenal. The Sun says we’ll have to pay £23m for him.

Then again, The Sun also run a story about Arsene Wenger opening his heart with a letter to a fan. Which is rather amusing because the letter is made up almost entirely of selected quotes from Arsene’s press conferences. Opening his heart indeed.

The Express says we’ve opened talks with Bolton over the signing of Gary Cahill. There’s the suggestion that we might offer them players as part of any deal. And there are certainly a number to pick from, you just wonder which of the ones we have available might want to go there.

In The Mirror a link to Bayer Leverkeusen’s Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal. I’ve said it before but the name Arturo just reminds me of the character from the book ‘Geek Love’ who has flippers for hands and feet. Now that would make football more interesting next season.

And finally, Arsenal have launched next season’s away kit. It’s a cross between Wycombe Wanderers and jockeys silks. Can’t say I’m a fan.

Right, busy day ahead. Till tomorrow.