It's finally a done deal.
After eight years of playing for Arsenal, midfielder Cesc Fabregas has moved on to his youth club Barcelona, in a guaranteed £30 million transfer deal that could include an additional £5 million based on his performance and the success of the Catalans.
The 24-year-old Spaniard has been subjected to transfer rumours for several months. "We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success," said Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the club's Web site.
For Arsenal and their fans, the Fabregas saga has been a long and tedious process. Arsenal had previously pushed for a £40 million transfer deal, but as the negotiations stretched out, Arsenal appeared to find the process a distraction for the 2011-2012 season.
While the Fabregas negotiations heated up, Arsenal failed to reach a contract extension with midfielder Samir Nasri. The French star's impending move to Manchester City remains in flux.
A prominent rumour is a Carlos Tevez-for-Nasri swap, but that seems highly unlikely. Tevez has been adamant about moving closer to his family in South America, and Arsenal won't be willing to pay about £220,000 per week over the duration of Tevez's four-year contract.
Nasri is valued at roughly £25 million. Should Arsenal and Manchester City not reach a deal, it's possible Manchester United might step in for Nasri considering Sir Alex Ferguson has yet to reach a deal with Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder.
In their first match of the season against Newcastle, Arsenal seemed to lack the creativity in midfield that Fabregas and Nasri brought to the club. The club has a little more than two weeks before the summer transfer period ends, and will need to quickly find replacements for the midfielders.
Two new names have surfaced over the weekend. According to Metro, Arsenal may be interested in Sochaux midfielder Marvin Martin and Marseille winger Andre Ayew with Fabregas's departure.
Wenger recently dismissed speculation that Spain winger Juan Mata, and Brazilian central midfielder are targets. Both seem to be quality fits for the Gunners, but the asking price might be too rich for Arsenal, even with the amount coming from Fabregas.
There are several options beyond Mata and Jadson. Eden Hazard of Lille, Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund, Douglas Costa of Shakhtar, Alan Dzagoev of CSKA Moscow, Mathieu Valbuena of Marseille, and Adel Taarabt of Queens Park Rangers, are just some notable candidates that have been discussed in recent weeks.
According to Metro, Hazard has been closely monitored. The 20-year-old Belgian might be the most creative young midfielder in Europe, and seems to be a solid fit for the Gunners.
Meanwhile, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka continue to be Arsenal targets at centre back, as they have been for the past several weeks. Scott Dann reportedly was offered a deal, but there has been no word on the progress of negotiations.
It will be interesting to see what Arsenal plans to do in the coming days. Major changes should be on the way given the upcoming scheduled matches.
The Gunners face Udinese on Tuesday at Emirates in Champions League action.