Just when you think the longest-standing transfer saga in football's recent history is reaching its climax, the tale comes up with a new twist.
The Cesc Fabregas-to-Barcelona talk has been running for three years now, and latest reports claim that it'll continue to go on. Arsenal and Barcelona are finding it very hard to come to terms attuned to both their likings.
The Gunners are holding out on their £40 million valuation of their skipper, while the Catalans are not prepared to budge above £35 million. However, Barca are prepared to offer a player along with cash in the deal and with Arsenal selling Gael Clichy to Manchester City, the popular Eric Abidal has been touted to be offered as a makeweight, according to a report in the Metro.
The 31-year-old Abidal rejected a contract extension offer recently, although since he is popular figure with both the players and the fans at the Nou Camp, it could see him being offered an improved deal with substitute left-back Maxwell used as the makeweight instead.
However, a further complication in the deal, according to a report in the Express, is Barcelona's transfer tactics which is rumoured to have caused a big argument between the Catalans president Sandro Rosell and manager Pep Guardiola. The report suggests that Arsenal were stunned when Barcelona offered £35 million for Fabregas last week, but maintained that six million of that fee would be retained as compensation for the Gunners' signings of Barca's youth team products Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin.
At the time of their signing Arsenal had paid £350,000 as compensation for each player, which is well within the rules, and are reportedly unwilling to part with their captain for the proposed terms by Barcelona.
Elsewhere, the Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is desperate to clinch a £15 million deal for the Spanish under-21 winger Juan Mata, according to a report in the Mirror. The Valencia star is a highly-rated versatile winger who has been touted to join the Gunners ever since Spain's triumph in the under-21 Euro championships.
However, the report goes on to say that Wenger doesn't consider Mata as a replacement for the want-away Frenchman Samir Nasri, but as a player who will help convince Nasri that Arsenal are spending on quality players and coax him into signing his £90,000 per-week five-year deal.
That may not be enough though as Nasri is reportedly content to play out the final year of his contract if the club does not receive a transfer fee that would convince Wenger to sell him. It means Arsenal will risk losing the player for nothing next summer as the Gunners have already dismissed Manchester United's opening offer around the region of £20 million.
Nasri is also keen to join United, who would offer a sizeable amount more than Arsenal in terms of wages, rumoured to be around £100,000. However, United aren't the only club interested in signing him, with Manchester City, Chelsea and Inter Milan all said to be interested. Wenger has already stated that if he is to sell his key player, it wouldn't be to a Premier League rival.
Nasri has returned to pre-season training with Arsenal and will hold talks with Wenger on his future.
Elsewhere, the Daily Star has reported that Arsenal's £6 million offer for Southampton's Alex Chamberlain has been rubbished by the saints who are holding out for nothing less than £12 million for the 17-year-old.
However, the Gunners are hoping to seal a £11 million deal for Lille striker Gervinho, with reports suggesting a work-permit is the only thing between him and Emirates.