The saga surrounding Cesc Fabregas’ transfer to Barcelona appeared to be approaching a resolution last night with Arsenal finally ready to let him go as well as accepting an offer for Samir Nasri from Manchester City in two deals worth around £60m in total.
Barcelona anticipate they will be able to tie up a deal for Fabregas this week that is weighted in favour of the 23-year-old's achievements. The deal under negotiation is thought to be €34m [£29.8m] paid up front and up to €6m in add-ons. Those add-ons break down as €2m for each of the first two league titles Fabregas might potentially win and another €2m for a Champions League victory.
The payments are structured over his first five years at the club and contingent on him playing a certain number of games for Barcelona. The incentive for Barcelona is that it is a way of them staggering the payments. Yet the deal still falls well short of the £40m valuation previously put on the player this summer by Wenger.
As for Nasri, it would now appear that Wenger is prepared to sell the player this summer to Manchester City for £23m. Nasri is out of contract next summer and already had a £200,000-a-week deal on the table from City. Having originally claimed that it would be impossible for Arsenal to sell both players, their clear desire to leave the club has left Wenger with little option.
It is understood that neither player will be in the squad to play Newcastle on Saturday evening. Fabregas has not played a game for Arsenal since April and has not participated at all in pre-season. Nasri played for France last night in their 1-1 draw with Chile in a friendly in Paris.
Although it has been suggested that Fabregas will take a pay cut in his £120,000-a-week wages, the reality is that the player will simply accept a lower offer from Barcelona than the improvement on his existing deal that he could have earned by signing a new contract at Arsenal.
The money will considerably strengthen Wenger's hand in the transfer market although how much he spends of it remains to be seen. The Valencia midfielder Juan Mata is a priority. The amount of money at his disposal may mean that Wenger may also set his sights on a more expensive target such as the Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
Having signed only Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain so far this summer, Wenger will have to strengthen in midfield with the absence of Fabregas and Nasri. He also needs a centre-back. Agreeing a deal for Phil Jagielka with Everton has proved fruitless so far and the player has showed no major inclination to move. Wenger may now be forced to look elsewhere, such as Bolton's Gary Cahill.
Also on the move is Samuel Eto'o, who is set to go to the newly wealthy Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, according to the Internazionale chief executive Ernesto Paolillo. With Eto'o bringing in a large fee, the Italian said Wesley Sneijder would stay at Inter, and denied any interest in Manchester City's Carlos Tevez.
Eto'o had been the subject of a possible exchange deal with Tevez, but it now appears he will be going to the Dagestan-based side. "Eto'o is leaving," Paolillo said yesterday, "he is going to the Russian club" – though the player's agent said only that "we have practically agreed things with Anzhi".
The offer to the 2010 European champions from a team who were only promoted to the Russian Premier League in 2009 was described as "intelligent" by Inter president Massimo Moratti yesterday.
Hey big spenders: Europe's new money
Boston-based Thomas DiBenedetto, 61, is the first foreign owner in Serie A and has invested just under €45m (£39.5m) on new players. He has hired the former Barcelona player Luis Enrique as manager and appointed Walter Sabatini as sporting director.
Buys Maarten Stekelenburg from Ajax (€6.4m); Bojan Krkic from Barcelona (€12m); Gabriel Heinze from Marseilles (free); Jose Angel from Gijon (€4.5m); Loic Nego from Nantes (free); Erik Lamela from River Plate (€15.1m).
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which acquired a 70 per cent stake in the club in May, has spent over €86m (£76m) on new players. Antoine Kombouaré remains as manager but the former manager of Internazionale, Leonardo, has been hired as director of football.
Buys Jeremy Menez from AS Roma (€8m); Kevin Gameiro from FC Lorient (€11m); Nicolas Douchez from Club Rennes (free); Blaise Matuidi from Saint Etienne (€10m); Milan Bisevac from Valenciennes (€3.5m); Javier Pastore from Palermo (€43m); Salvatore Sirigu from Palermo (€3.5m); Mohamed Sissoko from Juventus (€7m).
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani took over the club for €36m (£32m) in June 2010 and has invested heavily. Thani is part of the Qatari royal family and has a business empire based in the United Arab Emirates. Thani hired Manuel Pellegrini as coach and Fernando Hierro as business manager as they look to bring European football to Malaga.
Buys Ruud van Nistelrooy from Hamburg SV (free); Nacho Monreal from Osasuna (€6m); Isco from Valencia (€6m); Joaquin from Valencia (€4m); Sergio Sanchez from Seville (€3m); Joris Mathijsen from Hamburg SV (€3m); Santi Cazorla from Villarreal (€12m); Jeremy Toulalan from Lyon (undisclosed).
The Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov took over the club at the beginning of the year and has already invested €40m (£35m) in new players such as Roberto Carlos. Kerimov has huge stakes in a number of businesses including gold production in Russia. He is about to complete a high-profile deal for Inter striker Samuel Eto'o.
Buys Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea (£13.2m); Balazs Dzsudzsak from PSV Eindhoven (€14m).