Manchester City trail David Villa and Arjen Robben as Fabio Cannavaro rejects offer

01 May 2009 10:16
Real are likely to try and offload Robben in the summer after the club's presidential elections, as the expected victor, Florentino Perez, does not rate the injury-prone Dutchman.

Inter Milan and City have both expressed an interest in a player who is likely to fetch in the region of £15 million, though Robben's fractious relationship with Jose Mourinho when the pair were at Chelsea means City are in prime position to beat the Italians to his signature.

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City would have no problem meeting Real's asking price for Robben with the club's Abu Dhabi based owners able to call on massive reserves of wealth and eager to secure a number of marquee signings.

One player who will not be moving to City is Cannavaro, the former world player of the year and World Cup winner, after he turned down overtures from both City and Bayern Munich.

The Italian's reluctance to have his head turned by the promise of becoming one of the top earners in world football is warning to City that, though they have the wealth to compete for big names, the process of convincing them to join a club outside the Champions League will still not be an easy one.

'There will be the World Cup next year and I want to stay relaxed,' said Cannavaro.

'Real Madrid told me I would have to wait until after the (club's) presidential election (to find out about a new contract) and advised me to look around.

'But I have asked my agent to see if he can find a solution. I didn't want to have to start from scratch with the World Cup around the corner and that's why I have turned down Manchester City and Bayern.'

Manager Mark Hughes' interest in Villa, who helped Spain to the European Championship title last summer, is long standing and City have been encouraged by Valencia's perilous financial situation and an acceptance by the club that they will have to sell one or more of their better players at the end of the season just to keep afloat.

Hughes was quoted £128 million for Villa and his international team-mate David Silva in January which ended negotiations at that time, but further talks will be ongoing at the season's end.

While the two clubs would be willing to do business, Villa has always expressed a preference to staying in his home country, with a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid more likely, though Silva, an exceptional attacking midfielder, might be a more realistic target.

The prospect of Hughes being reunited with Roque Santa Cruz of Blackburn has receded. Blackburn stood firm in January, rejecting repeated bids from City that rose to around £16 million, but injury and poor form has wrecked the Paraguayan's season and he is no longer considered good value at the asking price.

City of dreams

DAVID VILLA: Valencia's financial situation could force a sale. City have trailed the Spain forward for months, despite a price tag that could exceed £45 million.Verdict: Don't rule it out.

JOLEON LESCOTT: David Moyes will fight hard to retain the Everton defender, but Hughes has long admired the centre-half.Verdict: 50-50 chance.

ROQUE SANTA CRUZ: Recent knee problem and Blackburn's excessive £18 million price tag might see Hughes set his sights elsewhere.Verdict: Unlikely.

FRANCK RIBERY: Bayern Munich are adamant Ribery will not be sold. Germans showed stubborness by making Manchester United wait 12 months for Owen Hargreaves.Verdict: Unlikely.

SAMUEL ETO'O: The striker has flirted for two years with the Premier League and Barcelona may be ready to sell.Verdict: Likely.


Source: Telegraph