Bellamy to seal £14m City switch

West Ham forward to complete move after new bid from Eastlands
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The Independent Football

West Ham United last night agreed to sell Craig Bellamy to Manchester City for a fee that could rise to £14m with a deal expected to be completed later today.

At the same time City's executive chairman Garry Cook will hold talks in Italy with Kaka's father and leading adviser, Bosco Leite, as the club attempts to convince the Brazilian to leave Milan for a world record €100m (£91m).

The dramatic movement in City's transfer activity will come as a relief to manager Mark Hughes who has, because of West Ham's unwillingness to sell to their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, finally succeeded in landing Bellamy.

The 29-year-old walked out of West Ham on Friday after demanding that he be allowed to leave the club for Spurs who had bid £12m for him. In all, West Ham rejected six bids from Spurs and City for Bellamy as they held out to get as close as possible to their £15m valuation for the Welsh international.

Last night Spurs manager Harry Redknapp conceded defeat, even though he felt he had persuaded Bellamy to move to White Hart Lane. However, in a series of discussions West Ham's chief executive Scott Duxbury reiterated the club's stance that they would not sell to Spurs and especially under the circumstances which led to Bellamy being left out of the squad for yesterday's home victory over Fulham.

Spurs are more confident that they will sign midfielder Wilson Palacios from Wigan Athletic after it emerged that, at present, they were the only firm bidders, having offered upwards of £13m for the Honduran who is also of interest to City. Redknapp said of Palacios: "I like him. The chairman is still trying to deal with Wigan." Meanwhile there are high hopes that defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong may become a City player early this week, with talks progressing well with the Hamburg player.

Bellamy will move back north, having previously played under Hughes at Blackburn, even though he is unlikely to be first-choice once City have completed their buying. They remain in the hunt for Rovers' Roque Santa Cruz who will play in front of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kaka, Stephen Ireland and Robinho if the starting XI Hughes has sketched comes to fruition.

As Bellamy arrives, Cook, in Lombardy with Sheikh Mansour al-Nahyan's representative, Simon Pearce, will travel to Milan for the meeting with Leite, who is due to fly in from Brazil. Bellamy will not see his prospective new team-mates either, as Hughes flew out with his players yesterday for a warm-weather training break, reassured that Cook's pursuit of players is beginning to secure results.

It remains unclear whether City's pursuit of the Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given is reaching fruition. City are understood to have tabled a bid of around £10m on Friday, a substantial increase on the offer of £4m plus a player made the day before.

Central to City minds, though, is whether Kaka will become their player in the next two weeks. Hughes has indicated that the pursuit of the Brazilian, rather than Lionel Messi, David Villa or any other of those in the superstar bracket, is a result of clear indications from San Siro that the club were willing to release him. It was, as Hughes has called it, an "opportunity".

"It may be that in the future a deal to bring Kaka to Manchester City will never present itself again, so when it does you have to follow it through," the manager said. "Timescales go out of the window when you are trying to do deals. You have to react quickly to acquire a player of that standard. You can't hang about. An opportunity presented itself and the feeling was Milan may well be receptive to an offer. That's why we've pursued it."

Those Milan fans who protested so vociferously against Kaka's departure during Milan's win against Fiorentina on Saturday evening will be infuriated that, behind the image created by the club that they have been responding to events in allowing Kaka to speak to City, a genuine prospect has been presented to the Premier league club.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said that today would not be "the decisive day" in the discussions. "The decision will be taken between Milan and the player. There are no problems between the club and the player, we shall reason things out," he said.

Though West Ham had harboured hopes of holding on to Bellamy, the club are hoping this week to secure the future of Scott Parker, who was the subject, with Bellamy, of an initial joint offer from City at the start of the window but the Hammers believe he will now sign a new, long-term contract. They will also move quickly to secure a replacement for Bellamy who arrived in July 2007 for £7.5m.

Meanwhile in Milan...

Kaka with David Beckham, put his transfer saga behind him on Saturday to play for Milan in the 1-0 win over Fiorentina at San Siro. Rossoneri fans displayed a number of banners demanding that the club keep the Brazilian and it was a sentiment echoed by the Milan coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who said: 'Kaka has played lots of decisive games for Milan and I think he will figure in a lot more', while Beckham added: 'He loves Italy and he loves Milan. I don't think he will leave.'