David Moyes has offered Cesc Fabregas the chance of a Premier League return.
The Manchester United manager has lodged a £26 million bid for the former Arsenal skipper, who has failed to secure a regular starting slot at Barcelona.
Yet he has made 96 appearances in his two seasons at the Nou Camp, and the initial reaction from Barcelona is that they are not interested in parting with the 26-year-old.
“The player is not transferable,” a source said yesterday – although such words are not always the signal that a transfer is impossible.
In this instance though, it is not known whether the midfielder actually wants to move. However, after his outstanding eight-year stint at Arsenal, which came to an end in 2011, Fabregas may conclude he is better placed to expand his medal collection by joining United as opposed to his former club if he does conclude that his time at the Nou Camp is over.
That is by no means certain. Having seen Thiago Alcantara join Bayern Munich, Fabregas may think he still has a future at Barcelona despite the competition provided by Xavi, Andres Iniesta and £50m new-boy Neymar.
Yet, like Thiago, Fabregas also knows his place in the Spain squad for next summer’s World Cup will be at risk if he does not feature regularly at club level.
And he must know, given the state of United’s midfield, he would be one of the key men at Old Trafford.
Having lost Paul Scholes to retirement, continuing doubt over the career of Darren Fletcher and a belief among fans Brazilian Anderson will never fulfil the promise that earned him a big money move from FC Porto in 2007, Moyes has already confirmed he requires additional competition for Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley.
And the side issue would be that because he has featured in the advanced “false nine” role, it would raise a further doubt over Wayne Rooney’s status with the Old Trafford outfit.
The development adds a bit of extra spice to the second leg of United’s pre-season tour in Australia.
After Saturday’s surprise defeat in Bangkok, Robin van Persie and goalkeeper David de Gea have arrived to bolster Moyes’ squad. Van Persie is particularly important given Danny Welbeck is the only orthodox front-man on the trip.
However, De Gea will be looking to build on an outstanding second season at Old Trafford, which led to him being voted on to the PFA Premier League team of the year.
“He came on leaps and bounds in the second part of the season,” said former Red Devils skipper Bryan Robson.
“He has matured, put a stone on in weight and strengthened up. He knows what the Premier League is all about now and I can only see him improving as he goes along.
“Iker Casillas said he is one of the best young goalkeepers he had ever seen.
“For a goalkeeper like Casillas to say that after the career he has had with Real Madrid and Spain, he must know David is going to be a top keeper.
“He has just to keep improving, working hard at his game.
“I am sure eventually he will get into the Spanish team.”
United will have a full week’s training in Sydney that will end with a sell-out encounter against the A League All Stars at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
Major sports broadcaster Channel Seven is screening both United’s game and Liverpool’s friendly with A League side Melbourne Victory later in the month.
At a time when the staple Aussie Rules and rugby league seasons are in full swing, an Ashes series is ongoing and the British and Irish Lions have only just left, this marks an unprecedented opportunity for a footballing code still trying to break into the mainstream of Australian sport.
The All Stars have not been helped by the absences of marquee men Alessandro del Piero and Emile Heskey, plus the Australia squad which has the East Asian Cup to contest, meaning veteran former Blackburn man Brett Emerton and former United and Celtic midfielder Liam Miller are two or the more notable figures at coach Ange Postecoglou’s disposal.
“Our national team has always been pretty strong but our domestic league is quite young,” said Postecoglou.
“For the code to go to the next level we need the domestic league to keep growing.
“Hopefully this year we get two or three more imports who raise the standard of the competition.
“Certainly it has raised the awareness of football within the Australian sporting public.”