The Premier League champions are keeping a close eye on the Spaniard’s situation as their patience with the Ivorian and his agent Dimitri Seluk wears thin
By Paul Clennam
Manchester City are keeping tabs on Barcelona star Cesc Fabregas as the club’s relationship with Yaya Toure becomes increasingly strained, Goal understands.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Catalan giants have put Arsenal and Manchester United on alert by preparing to listen to offers for Fabregas this summer.
But City are also monitoring the 27-year-old’s situation, particularly in light of recent comments by Toure and his agent Dimitri Seluk which have cast doubt on the Ivorian’s future at the club.
Last week Seluk claimed Toure felt disrespected and “very upset” after allegedly being ignored by City’s owners on his 31st birthday when the squad arrived in United Arab Emirates to celebrate their Premier League title triumph.
Toure has since publicly endorsed his agent’s comments and escalated tensions further on Tuesday by admitting it would be “an honour” to play for Paris Saint-Germain in an interview with France Football, though later clarified that he merely enjoyed being “coveted” by a club of the French champions’ standing.
But City are losing patience with Toure and are determined not to be bullied into giving the Ivorian an improvement on his current €280k-a-week contract, which was agreed only last summer and runs until 2017.
In fact, there is a growing sense that the Premier League champions will not put up a huge fight to keep their star midfielder if the right bid comes in, despite a remarkable return of 21 goals and nine assists in 42 matches in all competitions this season.
At 27, Fabregas is four years younger than Toure and the Spain international will sit down for talks with senior Barcelona officials this summer as he enters the final two years of his current contract.
United – who tabled two bids for Fabregas last summer – retain an interest in the player, as do Arsenal, who have first refusal and a buy-back clause believed to be set at the fixed price of €29 million.
Arsene Wenger explored the possibility of exercising the first-option clause last summer, and is understood to have talked on the phone “quite a bit” with his former captain about the prospect of a return to north London.
Fabregas joined Barcelona from Arsenal for €40m in the summer of 2011 but struggled find a regular starting position in his first two seasons, both under Pep Guardiola and the late Tito Vilanova.
The 27-year-old enjoyed more prominent status under Tata Martino this term, notching nine goals and 14 assists in 45 appearances in all competitions as the Catalan giants endured a rare trophyless campaign.
But he has found himself singled out by a section of Barcelona fans during the team’s struggles and was left out of photographs promoting the club’s new kit earlier this month, further fuelling speculation over his future.
However, president Josep Maria Bartomeu has dismissed reports linking Fabregas to a move away this summer, insisting: “We don’t want to sell players. Barca do not want to sell Cesc Fabregas, or see other players leave in the market.”
Meanwhile, Toure has publicly admitted he would like to retire at Camp Nou, where he enjoyed three hugely successful years before joining City for €32m in the summer of 2010.
But Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta played down reports linking the club with a move for the Ivorian on May 21, saying: “I won’t comment on stories that come from Twitter. It’s a wonderful world, but we deal with reality.”