Emmanuel Adebayor is ready to rebuff attempts by Fulham and Monaco to lure him from Manchester City after emerging as Jose Mourinho's leading target at Real Madrid.
City manager Roberto Mancini, who has sanctioned Roque Santa Cruz's loan move to Blackburn, had been reluctant to offload Adebayor until a deal had been struck with Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko.
Dzeko's arrival in a £27m move from Wolfsburg last week has now paved the way for Adebayor to leave Eastlands just 18 months after his £25m transfer from Arsenal.
Although City have yet to receive a direct approach from Real for Adebayor, senior figures at the club have been made aware of the Spanish club's interest in a six-month loan with a view to a permanent deal for the Togolese forward.
Real Madrid manager Mourinho is a long-term admirer of the 26 year-old, having previously attempted to sign him at Chelsea, and, with Argentine Gonzalo Higuain ruled out yesterday for four months following back surgery, the striker will provide competition for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Adebayor's £160,000-a-week wages have already ended interest from Aston Villa and Liverpool this month, but while Fulham would be prepared to negotiate a permanent deal for the player, it is understood that Adebayor will not leave City for a club who are unable to offer European football.
Monaco, who sold Adebayor to Arsenal for £3m in 2006, are prepared to pay his City wages, but the French club are struggling to finance a permanent move. And while City would prefer to sell, rather than loan, Adebayor, Real's financial strength would enable the Spanish club to comfortably pay his wages before meeting City's £16m valuation in the summer.
Adebayor has started just two Premier League games for City this season and has not appeared in the first team since replacing Mario Balotelli as a substitute in the Europa League victory against Salzburg on December 1.
Earlier this month, Adebayor was involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Kolo Toure, which only served to push him closer to the exit door at Eastlands.
Paraguayan forward Santa Cruz is likely to head through that door before Adebayor, however, having agreed to return to Blackburn on loan until the end of the season.
Santa Cruz has rejected a loan move to Lazio in order to move back to Blackburn, who he left for City in August 2009 in a £17m deal.
As part of Mancini's clearing of the decks, Wayne Bridge underwent a medical at West Ham yesterday prior to a loan move to Upton Park, while Birmingham City and Fulham are both keen to sign Manchester City's out-of-favour England midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Meanwhile, Mancini has warned Tottenham that Gareth Bale could become one of Europe's most-sought after players this summer. Although City had considered a move for the Wales midfielder in 2009, Mancini is understood to have no firm interest in Bale, but he admits that his progress this season marks him out as a player to interest big clubs this summer.
Mancini said: "Last year, Bale had already proved his value, but his career had not yet taken off. Now you would need a lot of money (to sign him). He is a very expensive player. What is certain is that, if Tottenham decide to put him on the market, Bale would be the strongest target in the summer.
"Perhaps he is the only player who is not a striker that can make a difference. Without him, Tottenham loses 50pc of their potential." (© Daily Telegraph, London)