Barcelona step up pursuit of Fabregas after wrapping up £34m Villa transfer

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The Independent Football

Barcelona know how to spoil their supporters – they were meant to be treating them to a day out in Madrid for the Champions League final on Saturday but that plan failed so to make up for it they will be presenting them with David Villa instead. The Spain striker will be unveiled tomorrow and Cesc Fabregas could yet join him in a double presentation, if Barça can come to an agreement with reluctant sellers Arsenal in the next 24 hours.

Joan Laporta, the Barcelona president, last night remained confident he would be able to come to an agreement with Arsenal despite Arsène Wenger's reluctance to part with the player he took from the Nou Camp seven years ago as a 16-year-old.

Villa's signing has been far more straightforward and the 28-year-old, who has scored 122 goals in his 201 league games for Valencia and Zaragoza in the last six seasons, joins on a four-year deal for €40m (£34.2m). His arrival rubber-stamps Thierry Henry's departure and also casts doubt over the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who it now seems was not bought on the request of coach Pep Guardiola as the club insinuated at the time.

Guardiola wanted Villa all along but the Ibrahimovic deal was the only way to get rid of Samuel Eto'o last summer and because that was his desire, the Barcelona coach settled for the second option. Now he has his first choice and the Swede will have to fight for a place in Barça's front three or accept a move elsewhere.

Valencia have been forced into selling their biggest asset and only €16m (£13.7) of the fee will stay at the club with the remaining money going straight to its creditors.

Arsenal's vastly superior economic situation is making Barcelona's second big summer signing far more difficult. Fabregas said last week that he wanted his future sorted before the World Cup. On Monday Spain's players will meet up in Madrid and Fabregas will as ever court the Spanish press either as a Barcelona player, or a reluctant Arsenal one.

Barça's move for Villa came as Jose Mourinho moved a step closer to becoming the next coach of arch-rivals Real Madrid after he gave at interview to Marca where he admitted there would be a void in his career if he never took charge at the Bernabeu.

"All I can say is that a great coach or player who doesn't play at a club like Madrid will finish their career with something missing," Mourinho said. "I want to coach Real Madrid – 100 percent. Whether it will be next season or later I can't say.

"To leave this club after two incredible years of work, it can only be for Madrid," said Mourinho, whose contract with Champions League finalists Internazionale expires after next season. "And if I go it's with a clean conscience."

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