The Italian side Udinese last night claimed Manchester City were leading the race to sign their Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, though insisted that a concrete offer matching their £35m valuation has not yet been forthcoming.
The comments by the club's owner, Giampaolo Pozzo, a legendary wheeler-dealer, sound like an attempt to whip up an auction now that the 22-year-old's mooted move to Barcelona has not taken place and the Serie A side may well delay a decision until the conclusion of their Champions League play-off tie. Sanchez is undoubtedly the player City wanted to make their early-summer signing, though, and in confirming their interest, Pozzo did not suggest there would be the reported competition from Manchester United or Chelsea.
"The right offer has not yet arrived," he said. "Alexis is a player everybody wants, but he is also a player with a specific price. It is not easy for anyone to buy him. And if he and his agent [Fernando Felicevich] are intelligent people they will know that, firstly, we cannot give him away and, secondly, if people are not prepared to give him the right consideration, it is better to stay in Udinese than to risk getting burnt out or seeing his reputation suffer.
"[Internazionale, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City] are all interested but concrete offers, for his real value [£35m], have not arrived. I think it is 50-50 that he will stay here, but if he does go I would say that the [likelihood] is to City, because English football is the richest and knows how to evaluate its talent. Inter? There has only been a request to talk, but we have not spoken in any definitive form. These things are not done until the last minute, though."