United still hopeful of Fabregas deal

Manchester United remain confident that a deal to sign Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona can still be struck – despite a 24-hour period which saw both Barca and the player’s former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger rule out the possibility of a deal.

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First, Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said United had accepted the Catalan side's stance that the Spain international midfielder was not for sale.

Then Wenger, asked about the possibility that Fabregas, 26, could move to Old Trafford, said: "What I know is Fabregas will stay one more year at least in Barcelona.

"That's the information I have. If that changes, I don't know. But that's what I have been told."

United, however, have continued to receive encouragement from the Fabregas camp. While it is understood that he would ultimately prefer to stay at the Camp Nou, he wants to do so with a higher status in the team.

And sources close to the negotiations said that, if that was not the case, he would be prepared to move to Old Trafford.

So far, despite the appointment of Gerardo Martino as new Barcelona coach, no such assurances have been forthcoming, while Fabregas has yet to comment on or quash the ongoing speculation.

Martino's comments after the 8-0 win over Santos in the Joan Gamper trophy - when Fabregas started on the bench alongside Neymar - hinted at a slight change in Barca's attitude. He said he hoped Fabregas would stay, but added that "the player also has to decide".

United are hoping to take advantage of this by stepping up their interest in what are complicated negotiations on all sides.