Transfer news: Starring role for Barcelona sees Cesc Fabregas put further dent in Manchester United interest

United had hoped any absence from the first team would change his desire to stay at the Nou Camp but midfielder played all 90 minutes in Gerado Martino's 7-0 competitive debut as Barcelona manager

Southampton broke their transfer record fee for the second time this summer after they confirmed the signing of Italian international Pablo Osvaldo, in a deal worth around £15m.

Fabregas was part of a three-man midfield alongside Xavi and Sergio Busquets, with Andres Iniesta coming off the bench to replace Lionel Messi for a 20-minute cameo appearance.

The former Arsenal captain put in a performance of the highest quality, finishing with three assists in a flying first half that saw the defending La Liga champions head in at the break with a six-goal advantage.

He will have been frustrated having not got on the scoresheet himself despite having two scoring opportunities, but he nonetheless played an integral role in Gerardo Martino’s first competitive game in charge at the Nou Camp.

Questions will remain over Fabregas’ place in the first team though until the club face Atletico Madrid in the two-legged Spanish Super cup for the first piece of silverware available this season, while the Catalan club also face a tough run of league games against Malaga and Valencia surrounding the Atletico matches.

It is Fabregas’ absence from key games last season that led him to consider his future with his childhood club as well as alert United that they could tempt him into a Premier League return by offering him an integral role in the heart of their midfield.

But the 26-year-old declared his happiness at his current club, leading United to pursue other avenues in their attempts to strengthen before the transfer window shut in two weeks’ time.

Manager David Moyes was keen to keep an eye on the Fabregas situation though, in the hope that his absence from the starting line-up would lead him to change his mind on where his future lies and push for a move to Old Trafford.

But if the victory over Levante is anything to go by, Fabregas will be an integral cog in ‘Tata’s’ Barcelona side as he looks to pick up where Tito Vilanova left off.

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