City in hunt for Marseilles pair Niang and Nasri

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The Independent Football

Manchester City's desire for another top striker and midfielder is understood to have led them to enquire after the availability of the highly rated Marseilles pair Mamadou Niang and Samir Nasri, though City are to said to be baffled by suggestions that they have been spurned in a 6m bid for Marseilles' former Liverpool striker, Djibril Ciss.

The Marseilles chairman Pape Diouf suggested yesterday that he had turned down an approach from City. "He is wanted, that is for sure," he said. "I myself have been approached by Manchester City [for Ciss] but I turned it down categorically."

But it is understood that City initiated contact with the Ligue 1 side after it became clear that Ousmane Dabo, out of the picture at City and keen on a return to France, might be of interest to them. In the course of a conversation which also included the subject of Georgios Samaras, whom City are looking to offload, City are understood to have expressed interest in both Niang, Marseilles' leading scorer this season, and the highly-rated attacking midfielder Nasri.

The prospects of either player signing for City seem modest at best. Marseilles will be reluctant to part with the talent of Niang, to whom Ciss has played second fiddle up front all season particularly since Nasri is destined for the African Nations Cup.

City's search for a striker and holding midfielder continues apace, with the club hopeful that deals for both will be settled this week.

Diouf's comments on Ciss seem puzzling, and may be related to Marseilles' desire to exact optimum return on the player particularly if Bolton come in for him in the eventuality of Nicolas Anelka heading for Chelsea.