Chelsea have emerged as surprise contenders to lure Cesc Fábregas back to the Premier League after Arsenal indicated that they would not be taking up their option to re-sign their former captain from Barcelona.

Fábregas has been informed he can leave the Camp Nou this summer after three seasons back at the Catalan club. Barça and their new manager Luis, Enrique, are seeking to sign the Atlético Madrid midfielder Koke, a move that would limit the 27-year-old’s first-team opportunities. The Spain international is disappointed Arsenal have opted against trying to bring him back but he is willing to consider other options in England.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have all considered moves for the midfielder in the past but it is understood their respective priorities lie elsewhere in the market this summer. Chelsea had hoped to secure Koke themselves as they seek a long-term successor for Frank Lampard, who announced on Monday night that he is leaving Stamford Bridge, with the new Major League Soccer franchise New York City, among other clubs, hoping to secure his services.

With Koke keener to move to Barcelona, Chelsea will consider alternatives and, having been alerted to his availability, have turned their attentions to securing Fábregas for around £30m. The Spain midfielder, who has 87 caps and a two European Championship winner’s medals to add to one for the 2010 World Cup, could operate in a deep-lying role alongside Nemanja Matic and dictate the rhythm of Chelsea’s performances, and is attractive given his familiarity with the rigours of the Premier League.

The player may need some convincing given his deep-lying affinity with Arsenal, where he spent eight years and played 212 league games, but his desire to play in England for a Champions League qualifier does appear to limit his options.