United move in as City stall on Sanchez transfer fee
MANCHESTER CITY were unwilling to be dragged into an auction yesterday as they began talks with Udinese yesterday for Alexis Sanchez, with their £25m valuation of the Chilean forward falling short of the Italian club's expectations.
City will not pay a £2m to £3m premium for players as in previous years and, though add-ons may help take the fee closer to the £31m that Udinese want, negotiations may take some time to reach a conclusion.
A cash and player deal may be the way towards a compromise -- City's Vladimir Weiss might be a makeweight -- but discussions have not yet reached that stage.
Despite manager Roberto Mancini's desire to have the summer transfer business tied up before the players return for pre-season training, this pursuit may prove to be a far longer game.
Indeed, City last night found themselves in competition with Manchester United for Sanchez (22) after a delegation from the Old Trafford club met with Udinese representatives.
Barcelona agreed personal terms with Sanchez last week only to see the deal collapse when Bojan Krkic refused to be used as a makeweight in the move. Pep Guardiola is now thought to have switched his attention to finalising a deal for Giuseppe Rossi, the former United forward now with Villarreal.
Carlos Tevez might soon pose another concern for City following reports from Argentina that he is back together with his estranged wife Vanesa, who insists that she can't settle in England. However, it's the willingness of a buyer to pay City's £50m asking price that will dictate Tevez's future.
Chelsea will find out next week whether they can sign the exciting Brazilian striker Neymar without triggering a €45m buy-out clause.
They had hoped to sign Neymar for around €30m, but there are indications that Real Madrid may offer close to €40m for the 19-year-old.
Tottenham are adamant that Luka Modric is not for sale, but Chelsea are preparingto offer £35m for the Croatian playmaker, who is also on United's wanted list.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa last night brought their fragile relationship with arch-rivals Birmingham City to boiling point when they interviewed Alex McLeish for their vacant manager's job.
Birmingham, who will be owed £5.4m in compensation if McLeish is appointed by Villa before the end of the month, have compiled a six-man shortlist for the hot-seat at St Andrews.
The candidates are understood to include Chris Hughton, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo.