City baulk at £45m fee for De Bruyne
Manchester City are facing defeat in their attempt to sign the Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin De Bruyne following Bayern Munich's emergence as rivals for the Belgium international.
Txiki Begiristain, City's director of football, has held discussions with De Bruyne's representatives and watched the former Chelsea player in action in recent weeks, having identified the 23-year-old this season as a target for the summer.
But De Bruyne, who made just nine appearances for Chelsea after a £7m transfer from Genk in January 2012, has made it clear he wishes to stay in Germany, with Wolfsburg keen to extend his contract until 2020.
City had been battling with Paris Saint-Germain in an effort to prise De Bruyne from Wolfsburg, who have been given the financial backing of owners Volkswagen to resist attempts from wealthy rivals to sign the player. But Wolfsburg are prepared to sell De Bruyne for around £45m, which will not deter Bayern but could force City to pursue other targets.
City, meanwhile, boosted their hopes of securing Champions League qualification for next season by moving seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool with the 2-0 home win against West Ham on Sunday.
Despite the result, City goalkeeper Joe Hart admits that last season's champions have heavily underperformed this year. "We are not in the place where we wanted to be," Hart said. "We wanted to be really challenging for the title, like we've done in previous years. We've let ourselves down at key moments. But there is so much more we can achieve. We've only just started and we've got a lot more history to create."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)