Barça tell Fabregas: it's now or never

President flies to South Africa to pressure Wenger into agreeing transfer 'in days'
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The Independent Football

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell will travel to South Africa to meet Arsène Wenger in order to speed along the transfer of midfielder Cesc Fabregas, he said yesterday. Rosell wants to sort out a deal with Arsenal in the next few days.

"It's now or never," he said. "We'll do it fast. It won't be protracted. I'll try to see Wenger in South Africa, then we'll tell you what happens.

"We would not pay the €50m to €60m that I have read about. If Arsenal do not go crazy, he might play at Barça."

Barcelona's hopes of buying Fabregas had appeared to have dimmed earlier this week when it was revealed the club had had to take out a €150m (£124m) loan – and sell Dmitro Chygrynskiy to former side Shakhtar Donetsk for €15m – to alleviate "liquidity problems".

Rosell has now admitted that the club have not paid their squad's wages this month. "We found a club in debt, with liquidity problems," he said. "At this point we have to take a loan to pay the wages of the players.

"The squad were supposed to be paid at the end of last month and still haven't been. We'll fix a loan.

"The banks know that we have a business plan that will allow them to recover the money. The club is not bankrupt because it generates income."

Asked how a club with a turnover of €400m could be in such a predicament, Rosell said: "It has spent more than it has made."

Despite the seemingly treacherous financial situation – and the purchase of striker David Villa from Valencia – Rosell insists that Barça still have as much as €89m available to spend on new blood. "There will be €50m to sign more players," he said. "This is the case every year. This is our plan for the future.

"Technically, as of now we have €50m plus 15 for Chygrynskiy and 24 for [Manchester City-bound Yaya] Touré. In total, €89m."

Arsenal, meanwhile, have completed the transfer of defender Laurent Koscielny from French club Lorient for £10m. Wenger has tracked the 24-year-old for some time, as Koscielny, who is also eligible to play for Poland, has impressed in the French domestic league.

The Gunners manager is in need of cover at the back, with Sol Campbell mulling over a new one-year deal and fellow veterans William Gallas and Mikaël Silvestre set to leave after the end of their contracts.

Koscielny will team up with those Arsenal players who have returned to the club's Hertfordshire training complex this week ahead of the traditional pre-season friendly at north London neighbours Barnet later this month, although those who have been in international action at the World Cup will be granted extra time off to recuperate.

Wenger has also secured the capture from Bordeaux of long-term target Marouane Chamakh, the Morocco striker, to bolster the Arsenal attack, which could be missing injured Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner, ahead of their opening game of the new Premier League season at Liverpool on 15 August.

Fulham's Australian international goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has been linked with a switch to the Emirates Stadium should Wenger decide he needs a more reliable pair of hands between the sticks next season after both Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski made high-profile gaffes last season.

The Gunners manager is in South Africa working as a pundit for French TV, but will waste no time on his return, with the squad set to head out to their Austrian training base before the Emirates Cup at the end of the month, where his side will face Milan, Lyons and Celtic. By then, Wenger will certainly want Fabregas' future decided one way or another.