Manchester United are still very much in the hunt to sign Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, according to United boss David Moyes. The Premier League champions have already had two bids rejected, with reports emerging that a third offer of €40 million (£34.6m) had been tabled. Stories in Spain have suggested that the departure of Tito Vilanova and arrival of Gerardo Martino as Barcelona coach has made Fabregas’s future at the Camp Nou more uncertain.
Moyes is desperate to boost the quality of central midfielders at his disposal for the coming season and, after failing in a move for Thiago Alcantara, has made Fabregas his leading target. And the former Everton manager is refusing to be deterred in the club’s efforts to secure the Arsenal captain saying that “it is ongoing,” while in Japan on United’s pre-season tour.
As is generally the case in these situations, United have doubtless received some encouragement from Fabregas’s camp that he would be open to a move to Old Trafford. However, with just over a month of the transfer window left, it is hard to imagine Barcelona being prepared to countenance losing a second central midfielder with little time to bring in reinforcements. The one caveat to that is if they receive an offer that is too good to turn down. Having already spent big on Neymar and still desperately needing a central defender, Barcelona could certainly do with extra cash with which to invest.
It is likely, though, that Moyes is exploring alternatives should the pursuit of Farbegas end empty handed. Young Italy international Marco Verratti has previously been mentioned as a target and TalkSport believes that Manchester United could be encouraged to reignite their interest after the 20-year-old’s agent revealed that the player has yet to agree a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain.
Verratti impressed in his first season in France last term and was a pivotal member of the Italy side that reached this summer’s European Under-21 Championship final. With Juventus, Fiorentina and Napoli also linked, Verratti’s agent has hinted that he would have no shortage of options should talks with PSG break down.
"The negotiations [with PSG] will continue," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The fact is that Marco has a four-year contract with PSG. But the alternatives are not lacking. And this morning I had a monstrous proposal from [Napoli president] Aurelio De Laurentiis. Marco wants to be recognized as an important player. What was proposed this morning is still not enough. We will meet again next week."
Another option Moyes may well be considering is a man he knows well from his time at Everton, Marouane Fellaini. A much-discussed clause allowing the Belgian midfielder to join a Champions League club for a reported fee of around £23 million expires at the end of July. Yet, no club has come in for an offer of late for Fellaini, according to Roberto Martinez. The new Everton manager also claims that the same is true of Leighton Baines, for whom United are said to have had a bid rejected earlier in the summer.
"Not at all, not at all,” Martinez responded when asked if there had been any recent bids for Fellaini or Baines, according to Sky Sports. "I know that is not what you might want to hear but everyone here is focused on fighting for spots in the starting line-up and the competitive level in this group is impressive.
"I don't think speculation is healthy, we are just trying to become as good as we can before the transfer window closes. If we get clubs talking about our players we take it as compliment, because the players have been impressing and doing really well. We are in a great position financially and we want to start the season with the best squad we can."
When asked if he was surprised that United had not returned with a second bid for left-back Baines, Martinez replied: "No, the last concern I have is what other clubs do.”