Barcelona move ahead with Villa and Fabregas deals

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The Independent Online

Barcelona have opened talks with Valencia over striker David Villa and are pondering stepping up their pursuit of Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.

Barca retained the Primera Division crown at the weekend but have already earmarked potential new signings for next season as they attempt to counteract what could be another summer of heavy spending from arch rivals Real Madrid.

Regarding Villa, president Joan Laporta told club website www.fcbarcelona.cat: "We've started talks with Valencia. Things are going well and we hope to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

"There's no date been fixed yet, but we'll sign him when it's best for our club."

Arsenal midfielder Fabregas, 23, is another player on Barca's radar.

Laporta was taken aback by Fabregas' comments last week that he would like to return to the Nou Camp, where he played alongside Lionel Messi in the youth ranks before moving to north London in 2003.

"It is remarkable that the player has said that," said Laporta.

"If the club technical staff believe we need to make the extra effort and sign him, we'll speak to Arsenal."

Fabregas said at a promotional event in Barcelona last week: "You see your [Spanish] team-mates succeeding here [in Barcelona] and it is exciting because you have worked alongside them for so long.

"I think I would like to go to Barcelona, whether or not they want me is another thing."

However, the Spain international - who has a long-term contract with the Gunners - also stressed: "I don't know when it will happen. I am happy at Arsenal and I am not in a rush to leave."

But he added: "Before I leave for the World Cup I want my future sorted out because it benefits nobody if I go into the tournament with something else on my mind."

Barcelona vice-president Rafael Yuste told Catalonian radio station Ona FM last night: "Negotiations are progressing well, especially in the case of Villa.

"The situation with Cesc is different because even if you have the will of the player it is very important to talk to his club and, if you can, find an agreement.

"But what makes it easier is that both players want to come to Barca."

Asked about the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined Barca last summer from Inter Milan in a deal which saw Samuel Eto'o and a large fee head in the opposite direction, Laporta replied: "He has a contract with us. We are satisfied."

Ibrahimovic scored 21 goals in all competitions in his first season with Pep Guardiola's side, although it had been reported the Catalan giants were keen to offload the Sweden international.

Another Barcelona frontman does look set to leave the Nou Camp, however, with Thierry Henry seemingly on the verge of a move to Major League Soccer.

"He is very popular in the MLS and there's a lot of interest in him," Laporta said.

"We are working on this and will try to reach an agreement that suits both the club and the player."

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