The Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, yesterday conceded the Spanish champions will probably fail in their attempt to force Arsenal into selling their prize asset Cesc Fabregas to the Spanish club.
Barça's very public attempt to force Arsenal's hand has infuriated the north London club's board, who are refusing to consider opening talks over a potential transfer despite Fabregas, 23, having told manager Arsène Wenger in an emotional meeting on 18 May that he wanted to leave.
Rosell told a Barcelona TV station that a deal for Fabregas, who was part of the Spain side that won the World Cup last weekend, now looks unlikely this summer. The club's president, who replaced Joan Laporta two weeks ago, did however say they were prepared to wait for the player who came up through their youth teams before moving to Arsenal when he was 16.
Rosell told Catalan TV3: "Arsenal feels very hurt by Barça. They don't want to listen to offers or sell and they are not putting the player (Fabregas) on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it."
Wenger is understood to have exchanged angry words with Rosell when the pair met in South Africa during the World Cup. The Barcelona president instigated the meeting but was surprised at the strength of Wenger's feeling about the Spanish club's behaviour.
Rosell also revealed that Arsenal want £60m for Fabregas, who still has five years to run on his contract. Reports in Spain last night suggested that figure was the one that had been indicated to Fabregas when he spoke to Arsenal before the World Cup, using the £80m transfer fee that Real Madrid paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo a year ago as a guide.
Barcelona made an offer of €35m (£29m) last month which was rejected out of hand by the Arsenal board. Rosell said Barcelona will not be making the kind of bid that Arsenal want, but predicted that sooner or later they will get their man and Fabregas will return to the club.
"He (Fabregas) will arrive, even if it is not now, it will be next year," said Rosell. "We will see. One thing that is certain is that we will not go mad trying to sign him.
"No shareholder would pay €60m or €70m for him. We will not go all out for him. We would only pay his value in the transfer market."
Rosell's statement is seen as being significant in Spain. However, there are still seven weeks left in the transfer window and the saga is likely to have more twists and turns before the end of August.
Fabregas has yet to make any direct statement on his intentions this summer following the World Cup triumph. He dedicated last Sunday's win to his club, saying: "All I can say is that this World Cup victory is for all the Arsenal players and fans, they are a world-class club. I am an Arsenal player and proud to be."
Fabregas is currently on a three-week holiday and is due back at pre-season training with Arsenal at the club's training ground in London Colney on 2 August.
Those Arsenal players not involved in the World Cup will kick off their pre-season today at Barnet, where the new signings Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny are likely to feature, along with Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrey Arshavin.
The midfielder Jack Wilshere is back after a loan spell at Bolton while the fit-again defenders Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs should also be involved at Underhill.Reuse content