Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has stepped back to allow rival David Moyes to land the Barcelona ace, knowing his club will pick up half of the transfer fee.

United have tabled an opening offer of £26m for the midfielder, who joined the Nou Camp giants two years ago.

Arsenal insisted on having a £25m buyback clause, with a 50 per cent sell-on inserted, after selling Fabregas to the Catalans for £30m.

But Wenger has made no move to re-sign Fabregas, leaving United in pole position to get him.

Barcelona are unlikely to accept the first offer from Old Trafford, which came after Moyes was snubbed by his No.1 target, Thiago Alcantara.

It remains to be seen whether Fabregas, 26, would be prepared to join United having been at the centre of some stormy encounters with the Red Devils while at Arsenal.

Fabregas had been widely rumoured to be the player who threw a slice of pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson after a hot-headed clash at Old Trafford in October 2004.