Cesc Fabregas could be forced to hand in a formal transfer request to engineer a move to Barcelona, as Arsenal dig their heels in over the future of their £45million-rated captain.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has no intention of allowing the team's talisman to leave without a fight, despite being told earlier this week directly by the Spain midfielder he wants to return to the Nou Camp.
Barcelona have, though, already shelled out some £34million for David Villa, and so are unlikely to be keen to produce another big cash outlay to land Fabregas, making a player part-exchange deal more likely - which could include Yaya Toure, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and perhaps even former Gunners winger Alexander Hleb.
Former Arsenal winger Perry Groves believes the club's failure to win a trophy in the last five seasons is behind Fabregas' desire to leave.
"I don't think it is a real surprise as it seemed if Arsenal didn't win anything this year he would probably want to leave," said Groves, a cult figure among Gunners fans following more than 150 appearances between 1986 and 1992.
"He is coming to the peak of his career, he is very influential in European football, but he has not won anything for five years.
"With Cesc it is not about being greedy or money but ambition. It is all about trophies.
"He can see Arsenal are a fair way from Manchester United and Chelsea and Arsene Wenger needs to sign about four players in the summer.
"Barcelona are winning trophies and Cesc wants to fill his trophy cabinet.
"I don't think he would have looked at Barcelona if Arsenal were winning trophies."
It appears Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain has left the ball very much in Arsenal's court, maintaining the Spaniards will respect the contract Fabregas has with the English club.
Arsenal, of course, certainly have no desire to sell, with Fabregas' long-term deal running until 2015.
While Wenger may feel a player of Fabregas' stature could command an £80million fee similar to that paid by Real Madrid to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, the Gunners boss will also be aware of the danger of keeping a player whose heart and mind are elsewhere.
Arsenal will hold further talks with the 23-year-old, who arrived at Highbury from the Barcelona youth ranks in 2003, as they look to gauge whether he will give them one more season.
Wenger is already planning moves to bolster his squad over the summer, with the confirmation of Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh's free transfer from Bordeaux set to be confirmed shortly.
Everton's Mikel Arteta and Brazil playmaker Felipe Melo, of Juventus, have long been on Wenger's radar, while a shock move for out-of-contract Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has also been touted - but any moves may depend on whether Fabregas, recovering from a cracked fibula ahead of the World Cup, stays on.
Cover at centre-back is also expected, with Neven Subotic, of Borussia Dortmund, Bolton's Gary Cahill and Senegal international Pape Diakhate all reported targets.
Veteran Sol Campbell should be offered another year, but William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre will probably leave.Reuse content