The Manchester City chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, has indicated that the club will buy between four and six players this summer but has said that Arab investors like Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan are being discriminated against by a football world which assumes they do not understand the sport.
Mubarak, the proprietor Sheikh Mansour's representative at the club, said the figures the club's Abu Dhabi owners were being quoted for players were "a joke" and insisted that a "City price" for transfers would not be tolerated.
"I'm frustrated with people assuming we are going to throw crazy money at deals, that we won't understand true values and we can't negotiate or get value for a player. We've had numbers thrown at us that are a joke," Al Mubarak said. "There are situations where a £10m player will be offered to us for a 'City price' of £20m. We just leave because at that point there's no point arguing – if people are throwing crazy numbers at us, fine, deals won't be done."
Though he declined to discuss players, City and Blackburn Rovers are moving towards an agreement on Roque Santa Cruz, despite being around £2m apart in valuation. The final deal may see Rovers hold out for around £17m. Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott are two others who could join the recent signing Gareth Barry at Eastlands, with the prospect of Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o becoming another marquee name still a real one.
January's failed Kaka deal has clearly stung the Arabs, with Mubarak declaring in his interview with The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, that City, like their proprietors, were being discriminated against. "There is a group of clubs that fall within the hierarchy and the clubs that fall outside don't have a seat at the table and shouldn't even demand one," he said. "When we looked at Kaka, the numbers being thrown around were crazy, suddenly in the news you see 'City are crazy' and 'City are irresponsible'.
Real Madrid's summer spending has made the Sheikh's £32.5m purchase of Robinho last summer look like good value, Mubarak insisted. "Look at our Robinho deal. If he went in this transfer window for the same price [£32.5m] it would be a steal."