The pressure on Arsenal to sell Cesc Fabregas grew yesterday as one of his prospective team-mates at Barcelona, Dani Alves, called on the club to let the 24-year-old return to the Nou Camp.
Alves, who himself engineered his exit from Seville to join Barça last year, added insult to injury by saying that he understood why Fabregas wanted to make the step up to "business class" from Arsenal. "I understand that he doesn't want to leave Arsenal on bad terms but I can understand why he would force the motor to come to Barça," he said in an interview with Spanish radio station RAC-1. "Players always end up playing where they want to play and a club shouldn't keep an unhappy player.
"I forced my exit from Sevilla; I saw the train passing by and I wanted to be in business class."
Arsenal, meanwhile, who are set to head to Asia for a lucrative tour on Sunday, insist they remain oblivious to the pressure. Swiss centre-half Johan Djourou insists the Arsenal squad cannot concern themselves with whether Fabregas will still be around to lead the club next season. "We know there will be stories but we know what we're aiming for and what our goal is," Djourou told the BBC. "We want to be successful so we don't really get distracted by this. If he [Fabregas] goes, he goes."
Barça, however, insist they are in no hurry to sign the midfielder. "We have the whole summer to sign players," said Barcelona vice-president Josep Bartomeu. "All of the deals that are being worked on by the technical secretary require patience – we are working without hurry but without delay."
And Bartomeu says improvements are necessary despite last season's success, when Barça won a third successive La Liga title and the Champions League for the second time in three seasons. "We have a great team with great players and great coaches – the best in Europe," he said. "But the squad will need some retouching."
Djourou, meanwhile, insists there could be an upside to any Fabregas sale, with other players stepping up to fill the void. "It could be true because when you look at players who normally come out and express themselves, it's when someone goes," Djourou said in Match of the Day magazine.
"When Thierry [Henry] went, Cesc expressed himself even more, but the two together [Fabregas and Nasri] are great so you'd rather keep them."
Djourou is confident the side has learnt from bitter experience as they look to end a trophy drought stretching back to the 2005 FA Cup. "Last season we were so close to trophies, but also so far. There was a little bit missing but it's not much," he said.
Gervinho is understood to have undergone a medical, with confirmation of a four-year deal expected in time for him to join the nine-day trip to Malaysia and China. Arsenal are also expected to step up their pursuit of £17m-rated Bolton centre-back Gary Cahill, while reports in Spain suggest the Emirates Stadium is the preferred destination of Valencia's Spain under-21 midfielder Juan Mata, whose buy-out clause would be around £20m.