LONDON — Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is close to signing for European football champions Barcelona for a fee believed to be about £35m.
The transfer, one of the most protracted in Premier League history, is yet to be completed, but Arsenal expect it to be done by the weekend.
According to a senior source at the club, all the funds generated by the sale will be reinvested in new players.
The Gunners have been linked with Scott Dann, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger looks intent on strengthening his defence and reports have suggested centre-backs Dann of Birmingham, Everton’s Jagielka and Cahill of Bolton could be targets.
Fabregas (24) would be unable to feature for Barcelona in the Champions League if he plays a part in Arsenal’s match with Udinese on Tuesday, motivating both clubs to complete a deal before that game.
Despite the potential loss of a great player and captain, many Arsenal fans will greet the conclusion of one of football’s most protracted transfer sagas with a sense of relief.
Fabregas’ departure will cap off a traumatic few months for Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger must now re-invest wisely in order to appease fans after six seasons without a trophy.
The purchase of targets like Juan Mata and Phil Jagielka would be a start as Arsenal seek to rebuild their side around Jack Wilshere, and compete with wealthier rivals. In short Arsenal must move on from Fabregas, and quickly.
The BBC understands a fee of £30m, plus over £5m of additional performance-related payments, is close to being reached for Fabregas.
It is believed that, if he is sold, the Spaniard will be due £4m in compensation — £1m for each year of his contract he did not complete — but may be prepared to forego that payment in order to facilitate a deal.
Negotiations have been conducted by Barcelona’s vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and is believed to be a final take-it-or-leave-it offer, leaving Arsenal having to sell one of the major assets or keep a player who has his heart set on a move.
The transfer fee is significantly less than the £40m that Arsenal had been holding out for and suggests the Gunners felt they had no choice, but to sell a player who wanted to leave.
Fabregas, who has 58 caps for Spain, joined Arsenal from the Catalan giants in 2003 and, since making his name in north London, has been persistently linked with a return to his boyhood club. Wenger will now turn his attention to keeping Samir Nasri at the club, who has refused to sign a new deal at the Emirates amid speculation of interest from Manchester City.
If the Fabregas deal goes through as expected, he will become Barcelona’s second major signing of the summer following their £23m purchase of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez.