Barcelona have confirmed they have submitted a written offer to Arsenal for midfielder Cesc Fabregas and are now in "formal" discussions.
The 23-year-old has long been linked with a return to Barca, the club where he plied his trade as a youngster before moving to the Gunners seven years ago.
He is under contract with the north London outfit until June 2014 but last month expressed his desire to head back to the Nou Camp at a promotional event in the Catalan capital.
That wish could have moved a step closer to reality over the past two days.
Barca director general Joan Oliver told club website www.fcbarcelona.cat: "Everyone knows that Cesc wants to play for this club and everyone knows that we also want this. But there is a third major player, which is Arsenal.
"Any deal must go through them and June 1 was the beginning of the period of official negotiations.
"Until earlier there were informal conversations, but since yesterday these are formal - and the usual mechanism is to present a formal and concrete offer.
"So yesterday afternoon, we submitted a written bid to Arsenal."
Txiki Begiristain will carry out the talks with Arsenal, and vice-president Rafael Yuste is keen to see a positive resolution in the near future.
He told www.fcbarcelona.cat: "I'm hopeful he can sign for the club as soon as possible.
"I'm optimistic and it is clear that he, his family, the players and the entire environment would give a very warm welcome.
"So we will not do anything to thwart his signing.
"We will not be in any kind of hurry, but we will not pause either.
"Now the ball is in Arsenal's court and, as we have an exceptional relationship with them, I am optimistic."
Barca last month splashed out 40million euros to Valencia to make Spain striker David Villa their first summer signing.
And the Primera Division champions' hopes of adding Villa's international colleague to their ranks received a boost when Fabregas spoke out.
He said: "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."
Barca were not slow to express their reciprocal interest, although they vowed to do everything by the book and to show Arsenal "respect".
His father Francesc Fabregas, who is also Cesc's agent, believes talks between the clubs could be protracted but feels in the end that Arsenal could give the green light for their captain to leave.
"The negotiations between Arsenal and Barcelona are going to be very long," he told Radio Marca last month.
"Both parties are going to have to sit down several times because the matter is complicated."Reuse content