Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, is already preparing for the retention of a Premier League title by urging his board to avoid a repeat of the tortuous pursuit of players last summer and moving rapidly into the transfer market.
The Italian has clear targets. Lille's Eden Hazard, below, remains foremost among them, despite the frustrations of agreeing personal terms after providing the 21-year-old with a tour of the Manchester property market and a hard-sell, only for him to hesitate. City, whose board meeting went ahead at the Etihad Stadium yesterday, keenly await the outcome of Robin van Persie's discussions with Arsenal, scheduled for Thursday, and despite the need to drive towards break-even to comply with Uefa's financial fair play regime, Mancini retains a keen interest in Edinson Cavani, the Napoli striker, as a back-up option if Van Persie cannot be secured. Cavani's agent has been quoting exorbitant figures to City for the past 18 months and the price tag being attached is still an unrealistic €40m (£31m).
Brian Marwood, City's football administrator, is, however, lukewarm about Cavani which could cause friction with Mancini.
Cavani's Argentinian team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi, whom Mancini also admires, has a €28m buyout clause, though he looks destined for Internazionale. Mancini's staff have also watched Athletic Bilbao's defensive midfielder Javi Martinez. The £7m-rated Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda is being monitored, too.
Some sources are beginning to sound pessimistic about the prospects of the £30m-rated Hazard deal being done, with Manchester United among the other possible contenders, though City's emergence as champions strengthens the appeal of the club. City also retain some optimism about signing Van Persie but Arsène Wenger has publicly vowed that City will not make Van Persie the fifth Arsenal player City's Abu Dhabi owners sign.
But the impediment to any signatures remains: how to shift on players signed at earlier stages of the club's development, who are now a millstone. The club have had only one offer for Emmanuel Adebayor – from Tottenham, where he was successful in the season just concluded, though there is confidence they may reach a permanent deal. City also have Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz to move on. They will listen to offers for Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli and the sale of Carlos Tevez would also free money for spending.Reuse content