By Wayne Veysey | Chief correspondent
Arsenal would be willing to grant Cesc Fabregas his wish to join Barcelona this summer if the Catalan giants match their £45 million valuation, Goal.com UK can reveal.
The Premier League club privately accept that it will be almost impossible to hold on to Fabregas for another season against his wishes.
But Arsenal will only consider doing business if Barcelona make an offer for their prize asset and captain in the region of £45m.
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The Spaniard’s desire to return to the club he left aged 16 remains as strong as it did last summer although his camp will not push for a transfer until the season finishes.
Fabregas, who has a hamstring injury and misses out against West Brom on Saturday, is mindful of rocking the boat while Arsenal are in such a strong position to challenge for the Premier League title.
Manager Arsene Wenger and the board were angry last summer that the Spanish champions pursued Fabregas so publicly but made two offers that were way below any level where Arsenal would have been prepared to negotiate.
Barcelona’s opening offer of £29m came on the first day of the summer window and they followed up with a second bid of around £33m.
Arsenal’s intransigence, the politics of incoming and outgoing presidents at the Nou Camp, as well as an £80m difference in the accounts between the two regimes, contributed to Barcelona’s inability to complete the deal.
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Although there are suggestions that Barcelona will have to sell before they can buy their former trainee this summer, the Catalan club will be able to take advantage of the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in sports history from next season when Qatar Sports Investment begin their £135m, five-year link-up with the club.
“Arsenal are a selling club and every player has his price,” a source close to the Gunners board told Goal.com UK. “They dug their heels in last summer because Barcelona didn’t match their valuation but they will let him go with their best wishes if they receive an offer that reflects what Fabregas is worth, which is around £45m.”
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has been building bridges with Arsenal officials, including Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, following the more bombastic approach of his predecessor Juan Laporta.
It is believed that Pep Guardiola would welcome the pursuit of Fabregas and there is still a desire at executive level to bring the midfielder back to the club that he left eight years ago.
When the season ends, club officials are ready to begin discreet negotiations should they receive any encouragement from Arsenal that a deal is possible.
The Premier League club still hold the upper hand because Fabregas’ £110,000-a-week contract, renegotiated in the 2008-09 season, still has four years to run.