Barcelona had adopted a tougher stance when United’s opening bids of £25 million and £30 million for the former Arsenal midfielder were rejected. But there were more hopeful signs for Mancheste United manager David Moyes as Martino indicated the will of Fabregas was now the key factor in a potential transfer.
After their earlier offers were rebuffed, United hope an increase to £35 million will seal the deal for the 26-year-old, and it seems the La Liga champions are now ready to do business.
Martino said: “I would prefer him to stay with us and I dare say he will, but it’s his decision. He is one of the best players in the squad. I think he will stay. But there’s a part that he has to decide.
"I had a short chat with him and told him what I think. Cesc will decide the situation, but it has not occurred to me that I won’t be able to count on him. He is one of the best players in the squad. I think he will stay. But there’s a part that he has to decide.”
Fabregas has remained silent as United’s bids have been lodged, offering plentiful evidence he is open to the possibility of moving to Old Trafford.
He was determined to leave Arsenal for Barca two years ago, but has been unable to establish himself as a lynchpin of the all-conquering side, often substituted or left out of the most important fixtures.
It is understand this has bred a degree of disenchantment and he knows should he join United he would have a pivotal role, primarily as the natural successor to Paul Scholes.
Martino reiterated he wants the midfielder to stay, adding: “If it was my decision, there wouldn’t be any chance of Cesc leaving.”
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney made his United return in a friendly behind closed doors at the club’s training complex at Carrington on Saturday.
Rooney, who wants to join Chelsea before the end of the month, featured with Nani, Nemanja Vidic and Javier Hernández against Real Betis.
Rooney played the first half and came through unscathed, his first appearance since recovering from a hamstring strain. He is expected to feature in United’s next pre-season fixture away against AIK Stockholm on Wednesday.
United insist they will not sell Rooney to Chelsea, who had a £23 million bid rejected last month.
But if they are successful in their pursuit of Fabregas and Rooney hands in a formal transfer request, circumstances could shift.
Chelsea have not given up on signing the England forward and will make a renewed effort, believing Rooney is determined to work with Jose Mourinho.