Barcelona recently inked a shirt deal with the Qatar foundation, the world's most expensive shirt deal at present. This will provide the Spanish giants with more revenue and help them reduce their debts to a large extent.
Barcelona are arguably the favourites to lift the Champions League at Wembley after showing their prowess against Spanish rivals Real Madrid. They have a superb style of play which can be matched by no one in the world and have been extremely successful under Guardiola. It is hard to find a soft area in the current Barcelona team which is why it is a surprise that they are linked with moves to Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal and Fernando Torres of Liverpool.
The Spanish internationals were linked with the Catalan club in the last summer as well but both of them stayed at their respective clubs. As the January window approaches, it is hardly surprising that there are speculations concerning them. In this article, I will discuss the possibilities of the two Spaniards moving away from their respective clubs in the summer.
Barcelona tried to convince Fabregas of a move to his homeland but failed to make a substantial offer last season. The French tactician, who has played an integral part in the development of Cesc Fabregas, convinced the Spanish international to stay for the season.
Fabregas has a long term contract till 2015 and his potential is undeniable considering his rapid progress at Arsenal into a superb midfielder at the age of 23. It would take a massive bid of close to £50 million to entice Arsenal into considering the offer. The Gunners hold all the trump cards in the deal and will demand the price that they think is necessary to part ways with their captain.
Inter Milan have been linked with a big-money move in the past, but Fabregas has made it clear that if he does move from Arsenal, it will only be to Barcelona.
Fabregas has suffered numerous injuries in his career, but his recurring hamstring injury is a cause of concern because it could have long-term implications, not unlike the case of Michael Owen whose career was greatly affected by hamstring injuries. However, that is unlikely to put off Barcelona from launching a strong bid in the summer to bring back their former youth player, who remains special amongst the Barcelona crowd.
Arsenal's Point of View:
Arsenal and Wenger understand that it is inevitable that Fabregas will leave the club, but they will look to groom their replacement before he does join FC Barcelona. Aaron Ramsey is highly rated and if not for his double fracture, he would have got many chances this season and Wenger could have utilised him in the attacking midfield role when Fabregas is injured.
Samir Nasri can play in the role and has proved to be effective in the past. The versatility of some of the players at Arsenal might mean that Wenger does not sign a new playmaker to replace Fabregas. The Spanish International has been affected by injuries this season and it would have given Wenger some idea as to how they would cope without their inspirational talisman.
Even if Wenger feels he could let Fabregas move, Barcelona will have to come up with the right offer or they could expect to be snubbed by the Arsenal manager because they do believe that a price of around £50 million is justified for a player of Fabregas' class.
Barcelona's Point of View:
Barcelona have made it clear that they would be glad to sign Cesc Fabregas and with Xavi Hernandez not getting any younger, Cesc Fabregas could be groomed for the next two seasons to take up the mantle for the Blaugrana. They are a club which have paid big money in the past and with the new revenue from the shirt deal, Guardiola might spend the money to acquire the Arsenal captain.
However, signing the Arsenal captain would mean that the chances for Thiago Alacantara and Jonathan dos Santos, who are promising central midfielders, would disappear. Also, Ibrahim Afellay was signed recently by the Blaugrana and there could be some youngsters who could leave the club in search of more playing time.
The Spanish striker was clearly unhappy that his side could not compete in the Champions League this year and was linked with a number of clubs in the last summer. However the new manager Roy Hodgson convinced him to stay with the club. He was also influenced by the decision of Steven Gerrard and the signing of Joe Cole but it has not worked well for him this season.
He has looked off form for most of the season but turned in a brilliant performance against current champions Chelsea to defeat them by two goals to nil. His talent is undeniable and he has proven that he is a world class striker. However he has been a pale shadow of himself due to his lean patch which extends to the World Cup in June.
Torres is an ambitious striker and believes he should be playing in the Champions League and that could be a reason he could force a move from the club in January or in the summer. Manchester City were heavily linked with him in the summer and could test his resolve again.
Liverpool's Point of View:
It will be very difficult to convince Torres to stay with the club after a very disappointing start to the season and though he has not been in form, the supply to him in general has been quite poor and he has also suffered because of it. Ideally, Liverpool would like to hold on to their striker but if the striker decides to move on, there is not much that the club can do but to negotiate smartly in order to gain the best deal.
Liverpool's new owners might hold the key to whether or not he will stay at the club. Roy Hodgson's time with Liverpool is numbered if he does not start producing the results and if things do not go his way, the new manager and the owners' willingness to spend the money to acquire new players could also determine whether Torres will stay at the club or not.
The Clubs that could Sign Fernando Torres
Manchester City are one of the strong contenders to land the Spanish striker considering they need a prolific established striker if their former captain Carlos Tevez does force a move out of the club. They have the financial clout to meet Liverpool's asking price but the question is whether Torres will move to a club where a player's future is not always certain (read Roque Santa Cruz, Adebayor et al). Also, Torres named Liverpool as the biggest club in England and moving to City will not impress the Liverpool supporters.
Chelsea were believed to have made a bid in the summer for Torres and after seeing the striker's prowess against them, they might want to add the prolific striker to their roster. Also, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are both on the wrong side of 30 and the London based club might let Anelka leave if they can sign Torres.
Real Madrid are interested to sign a striker in January or in the summer and do have the finances to sign the Spanish International but there is a very good possibility that Torres might not want to play for the Los Blancos considering he played for Atletico Madrid in his early years and the club remains close to him.
Barcelona were also one of the clubs linked with the star striker and it was reported that Sandro Rosell was keen on bringing the Spanish International to the Camp Nou. Torres is not averse to a move there and the Blaugrana are capable of paying what it takes to land Torres. David Villa and Fernando Torres share an excellent relationship and that could also be a factor. The only thing which Barcelona have to consider is whether Torres is needed at the club and that his signing will hinder Bojan Krkic from having regular opportunities. For Torres, he needs to playing regularly and should he be assured by Guardiola of a chance to prove his calibre, there is a good chance he would be interested.