The Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, held discussions with Monaco for a period of four months earlier this year, as the club sought to entice him on a salary of £6.4m.
Mancini denied to journalists during the club's pre-season tour, this summer, the persistent rumours that he had been in conversations with the side as he headed into the final 12 months of a three-and-a-half-year contract. But it is understood that the Russian Football Association was also interested in securing the Italian before choosing his compatriot Fabio Capello. It has become clear that Mancini's bargaining position in securing the £38m deal with City, in July, which left him second only to Jose Mourinho among the best-paid European managers, was strengthened by a lengthy period of talks with Monaco.
When that club also tabled their own five-year contract for him at a meeting in Rome the salary on offer was tax-free. Monaco's majority shareholder, the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, believed he had done enough to entice Mancini away – at a time when Mancini was unhappy with the club's sluggish preparations for the summer transfer market. Rybolovlev bought his majority stake in Monaco last December and is intent on using his vast resources to restore the club to the Champions League. Monaco, 2004 Champions League finalists, have now dropped into Ligue 2.
City did not comment on the manager's Monaco talks last night, although it is thought the Italian is sanguine about the fact that a number of offers were on the table at a time when his contract was running down and when City's course towards the Premier League title was proving to be a bumpy one.
There has been a view at the Etihad for well over a year that Mancini's outbursts against the former football administrator Brian Marwood are deeply unwelcome and that he might improve his interpersonal skills with the players. It is certain that he would have been made aware of these issues this spring.
After his club's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in early April, a result that left Mancini's team eight points behind United in the title race, there were no guarantees that he would be retained, should City fail to clinch the title.