Arsenal's Gael Clichy will hugely increase his wages with a move to Manchester City but has also resolved to leave north London because he doubts Arsène Wenger's desire to keep him.
As The Independent revealed yesterday, City are close to concluding a four-year deal – possibly rising to £10m – for Clichy, gazumping Liverpool and enabling the Frenchman to increase his weekly wage from the current £58,000, excluding bonuses, to over £90,000 at Eastlands.
The transfer north, which is unlikely to be in the next two days because the Frenchman remains out of the country, moved closer yesterday with talks progressing well. City are happy with the price and package they are being asked to pay but their awareness of other clubs' interest in the left back is making them guarded about the deal.
Publicly, Wenger has said he wants to keep Clichy. But Arsenal are unwilling to be held to ransom by players who find themselves contemplating more lucrative offers elsewhere and Clichy's desire to see Arsenal match the £4m annual salary he was being offered by Liverpool, who initially bid £5m for him, has already received short shrift.
Wenger also has Kieron Gibbs waiting in the wings, reluctant to be Clichy's understudy for another year, and Clichy's awareness of this is driving his desire to accept City's offer. Clichy also feels he needs a change after eight years at Arsenal – a club where he is currently the longest serving player – but the salary is a huge attraction. Liverpool are now relying on the powers of persuasion of Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli, who helped bring Clichy to Arsenal in 2003 when he scouted for Wenger, but Clichy's heart is set on City.
City are continuing to move players on. Bolton have renewed their interest in Shaun Wright-Phillips, for whom a loan bid fell through last winter because the club would not agree to a buy clause. The 29-year-old's desire to play regular first-team football may see him take a cut in his £60,000-a-week wages. The fee is around £4m. Wigan Athletic are also interested in Wright-Phillips. City are no nearer securing the £5m sale of Shay Given to Aston Villa.
City's move for 25-year-old Clichy, which calls into question the future of last summer's £16m buy Aleksandar Kolarov, is likely to deliver their first summer breakthrough. The pursuit of Fiorentina's Alessio Cerci is part of Roberto Mancini's desire to invest in players for the future, who also include Partizan Belgrade's Stefan Savic.
Reports in Italy suggesting an imminent deal for Cerci are inaccurate and seemingly part of a strategy to push the pace of a deal, but there are ongoing discussions on what could be a £7m transfer. Cerci's arrival would bring City another Italian with a colourful background. Though less controversial than Mario Balotelli, the 23-year-old striker has clashed with fans of Fiorentina, accusing them of scapegoating him last season because Roman-born players are not popular in Fiorentina.
Liverpool owner John W Henry has insisted that the club would not be rushed into spending over the odds on players and clearly believes the market for English-based players offer poor value. Henry's Fenway Sports Group are not impressed by the inflated prices which have been paid for English players this summer and believe that better value is to be located abroad, now that the pursuit of Ashley Young, Connor Wickham and Phil Jones have come to nothing. "We are determined to build," Henry said. "As long as we stay within the parameters Uefa has set forth under its Financial Fair Play rules, we will have flexibility."
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