Clichy, Nasri and Fabregas all eyeing Arsenal exit door
Arsenal are facing the potential loss of three first-team regulars this summer, with Manchester City confident of a £7m deal for Gael Clichy and now rivalling Manchester United in their interest for Samir Nasri.
Communication between Arsenal and Barcelona is also ongoing over Cesc Fabregas as the two clubs try to find a compromise on a deal worth around £37m.
Although manager Arsene Wenger is understood to be willing to allow Fabregas and Clichy to leave at the right price, he is unlikely to sanction the departure of Nasri to another Premier League club if he has already lost Fabregas.
Sources in Italy have also confirmed the interest of AC Milan in Nasri and, while Wenger has still not given up hope of persuading the 24-year-old to sign a new contract, he would be more comfortable with one of his most prized assets moving to a club outside of England.
Nasri has entered the final year of his contract and so could potentially leave for nothing next summer. It places Arsenal in a difficult position, particularly as United are believed to be preparing an offer of £20m.
City are close to concluding a £7m deal for Clichy, gazumping Liverpool and enabling the Frenchman to increase his weekly wage from the current £58,000, excluding bonuses, to over £90,000 at Eastlands.
The transfer north, which is unlikely to be concluded in the next two days because the Frenchman remains out of the country, moved closer yesterday with talks progressing well.
The price may rise to £10m when including add-ons, which reveals what Liverpool, who initially bid half that, were up against. City's awareness of other clubs' interest in the left-back is making them privately guarded about securing their player. Publicly, Wenger has said he wants to keep Clichy.
But Arsenal are unwilling to be held to ransom by players who find themselves sizing up more lucrative offers elsewhere and Clichy's desire to see Arsenal match the £4m a year he was being offered by Liverpool, who bid £5m for him, has already received short shrift.
Wenger also has Kieron Gibbs waiting in the wings, reluctant to be Clichy's understudy for another year, and Clichy's awareness of this is driving his desire to accept City's offer.
Clichy also feels he needs a change after eight years at Arsenal -- he is currently the longest serving player there -- but the salary is a huge attraction.
Liverpool are now relying on the powers of persuasion of their director of football Damien Comolli, who helped bring Clichy to Arsenal from Cannes in 2003 when he scouted for Wenger.
City are continuing to move players on. Bolton have renewed their interest in Shaun Wright-Phillips, for whom a loan bid fell through last winter because the club would not agree to a buy clause, and the 29-year-old's desire to play regular first-team football may see him take a cut in his £60,000-a-week wages. The fee is likely to be around £4m.
Wigan are also interested in Wright-Phillips. City are no nearer securing the £5m sale of Shay Given to Aston Villa.
City's move for 25-year-old Clichy, which calls into question the future of last summer's £16m buy Aleksandar Kolarov, is likely to deliver their first summer breakthrough.
The pursuit of Fiorentina's Alessio Cerci is part of Roberto Mancini's desire to invest in players for the future, who also include Partizan Belgrade's Stefan Savic. Reports in Italy suggesting an imminent deal for left-footed forward Cerci are inaccurate and seemingly part of a strategy to push the pace of a deal, but there are ongoing discussions on what could be a £7m transfer.
Cerci's arrival would bring City another Italian forward with a colourful background. Though less controversial than Mario Balotelli, 23-year-old Cerci has clashed with fans of Fiorentina, accusing them of scapegoating him last season and turning on him because Roman-born players are not popular in Fiorentina. (Daily Telegraph, London)