After having Thiago Alcantara snuffled from under their noses by Josep Guardiola's Bayern Munich, Manchester United have seemingly set their stall out to lure Cesc Fabregas back to the Premier League.
Speaking in Sydney, David Moyes confirmed that the interest in signing the former Arsenal man was real. United's manager was unable to confirm how close, or indeed how far, they are from completing a potential deal, but he did confirm that the executive vice chairman Ed Woodward was working on the transfer.
For the Red Devils the acquisition of Fabregas makes perfect sense. For several seasons many have felt that a central midfielder is needed at Old Trafford and, despite Michael Carrick's impressive season last time out, nothing has radically changed to alter that perception. As for Cesc, it's a difficult situation, but you can certainly see why his ears would perk up at the thought of the move. Despite spells as a regular starter at Camp Nou, he's never quite integrated himself in the way some might have expected when he returned home from London.
The situation for Barcelona is a simple one, though - they simply cannot allow Fabregas to leave the club. Had they not made the faux pas with Thiago's contract, their viewpoint may have been different, but that mistake has been made.
Vice President of the Catalan club, Josep Maria Bartomeu told sport on Friday morning that: “the player will be staying with Barcelona. The club will not sit down to negotiate his sale with anyone.” That is the party line, and it is one that Tito Vilanova and, especially, Sandro Rosell cannot afford to deviate from.
After several seasons of relative bliss and worldwide admiration, the cracks have been surprisingly visual at Barcelona this past month. Guardiola's comments about the way the club dealt with him in his year off have only given ammunition to the Barca fans who are keen to see Rosell replaced, prospectively by Joan Laporta. Meanwhile, the microscope on the relationship between Pep and Tito has been as unwanted as it is unnecessary.
Thiago's cheap departure wasn't in any script - the 22-year-old was considered the heir to Xavi Hernandez's throne - and has made Fabregas, previously thought disposable for the right fee, unavailable in the strictest of terms.
The strange thing about the bold ‘not for sale’ sign around Cesc’s neck is that it is not so much because he is being banked on as a regular starter - not that he isn't either, mind - it's that the club can't afford to reveal any more weaknesses this summer. The 26-year-old is certainly a valuable player moving forward - Xavi's slowing down and Sergi Roberto is hardly ready to take that baton.
No, the stance that looms over Cesc is a political one. Rosell has already overseen one midfield graduate from La Masia depart Catalonia this summer - to let another one out the door would put the final nail in his coffin at the club although, even if, with three years left, that may already have been done.