Madrid: Arsenal have abandoned efforts to keep skipper Cesc Fabregas who could be set for a return to Spanish giants Barcelona, Spanish sports newspapers said Thursday.
Gunners coach Arsene Wenger has allowed his skipper to leave on condition he does not sign with another English team, the Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo said, quoting a conversation between the two.
But it warned that "negotiations between the two clubs will not be easy."
Another paper, Sport, said "Arsenal believes that the player's departure is inevitable" and his representatives are expected in Barcelona on Thursday to hear the "demands" of the London club.
It said Arsenal could ask for up to 50 million euros for the 24-year-old midfielder, a star of Spain's 2010 World Cup-winning squad.
Wenger had insisted last month that he was determined to spend a second successive summer fighting off mighty Barcelona to keep Fabregas at the Emirates.
The Gunners turned down a bid from the Spanish champions last year for a player who spent his junior days at Barcelona before joining Arsenal at the age of 16 in 2003.
"I am a Barca supporter. I am a member like my grandfather, my uncle, my cousin..," Fabregas said last year.
"I love their colours since I was very small. I am Catalan. However, I am captain of Arsenal, I am a Gunner and it is there that I have become a player and that I have matured as a person."