Cesc Fabregas has not traveled with his Arsenal teammates to Lisbon to face Benfica, fueling further speculation that a deal with Barcelona is close.

Friday's reports had it that Barcelona had a second bid rejected for the player, believed to be around £35 million including add-ons. Arsenal's market valuation of Fabregas is £40 million, but Barcelona have been unable to meet that figure so far.

Though Fabregas took part in an open-training session on Thursday, manager Arsene Wenger had said that his hamstring injury had still not fully healed. However, that is believed to be the official reason for his absence, especially as Wenger refused to speak about Fabregas in a press conference at Lisbon.

"I do not want to speak about the transfer of Fabregas because I have done that three years now in every press conference so I don't think there is any more need to add something." He said. "I love Fabregas and I want him to stay, that is basically it.

"Everybody is free to think what they want. We cannot stop people raising questions. He is just coming back from injury and is not ready to play in a game. But he is not injured."

The real danger that Barcelona and Fabregas face is that if matters aren't resolved quickly, Fabregas could be forced to play in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese on 16 August, which would leave him cup-tied to play in the tournament for Barcelona, if Arsenal qualifies.

BBC Sport has reported that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gadzidis is set to meet with Barcelona officials in a bid to conclude the long-standing saga, though the club's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who traveled to London to take part in the club's members-day, will play no part in the negotiations.


Kagawa is known to be a goal-scoring midfielder. Picture - Reuters

However, reports elsewhere have suggested that Arsenal are looking for a replacement for the 24-year-old as they expect him to leave. Fanatix.com has cited Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa as the possible replacement for the Spaniard.

Kagawa was linked with a move to Manchester United last season, and during the last campaign he scored 8 goals in 18 games from midfield before a metatarsal injury ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

The report quoted Kagawa as hinting at a possible move in the future.

"Right now, everything suits me at Dortmund. But, if I were to transfer to a different club in the future, then I would choose Barcelona. They are playing the best football in the world." He said.

However, Arsenal, known as Barca-lite amongst some quarters, could also interest the player.

Things are not looking good for Arsenal as far as Samir Nasri is concerned. The Daily Mirror has reported that the player's relation with Wenger has reached a new low after the two clashed in the flight back from a pre-season tour of Asia last week.

It seems as though Nasri is on his way to Manchester City, who are ready to swoop in with a £22 million move for the player. However, he will only be allowed to move on if and when Wenger seals the deal to bring in Juan Mata from Valencia.

Meanwhile, Newcastle outcast Joey Barton has been linked with a move to Arsenal, as Wenger looks to shore up on replacements for Fabregas and Nasri.

Newcastle have released the 28-year-old on a free transfer, and the Englishman has been linked with numerous clubs. Everton were touted as the favourites to sign him, but his wages are out of the Merseyside club's range. It means Tottenham and Arsenal are favourites to land him.

Tottenham could help Barton's ambitions of playing for England, as their manager Harry Redknapp is touted to be the next England manager. However, Arsenal can offer Champions League football, which could be something Barton cannot resist.

Finally, Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad is reportedly interested in taking Carlos Vela from Arsenal on loan, though they would consider him as a permanent signing. The 22-year-old has failed to seal a regular spot at Arsenal and the Gunners are likely to sell him, given a suitable offer.