Valencia will sell Villa if City offer is 'exorbitant'

<i>La Liga</i> club's financial problems signals opportunity for England's nouveau riche
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The Independent Football

As the rest of the Premier League waits for Manchester City to open their cheque book, Valencia have admitted that their precarious financial situation means that they would be forced to consider any offer for David Villa, one of City's potentially most expensive targets, in the January transfer window.

Valencia's sporting vice-president, Fernando Gomez Colomer, refused to rule out a sale. He said: "Whatever offer comes in we will have to study it although the idea is not to have to sell David Villa or David Silva. It would have to be an exorbitant offer."

City's ambitions for the remainder of this season will be measured largely by which striker they buy this month. A Jermain Defoe or a Craig Bellamy would be expected to pull them clear of any relegation battle but signing the winner of the Golden Boot at Euro 2008 would signal their intentions of moving to another level. Having scored over a 100 goals for Valencia in just over four and a half seasons, Villa is the club's prized asset but they remain in severe financial difficulties having been denied any more credit by their bank, Bancaja. They are still unable to close a deal on the sale of the site of their Mestalla stadium and are supposed to be moving to a new stadium on the outskirts of the city next year. Sale of land for apartments at the Mestalla was supposed to finance the new stadium.

"We will fight to give the club the economic stability that it needs. Right now that is the most important thing - more than any kind of sporting success," said the club's president, Vicente Soriano.

Valencia have in the past fended off interest in Villa from Chelsea and Liverpool, aided by the striker's preference for staying in Spain. They were also on the brink of accepting a bid from Manchester United for Silva last summer. The versatile left-sided attacker rejected the chance to move to Old Trafford because, like Villa, he wanted to remain in La Liga.

Ultimately, Valencia's need to cash in on players this month may depend on whether or not they are successful in selling their current stadium and gaining an advance on the estimated €300m (£289m) price. Soriano says that he has a buyer, but the purchasing company does not want to want to pay up front for land they will not be able to use until summer 2010 when Valencia finally move into their new stadium.

While Valencia do their best to keep their top names, Real Madrid's interest in signing Wigan's Antonio Valencia has increased after their extraordinary transfer-window error.

Winning the Champions League is now seen as the club's best chance of a trophy this season and Real's sporting director, Predrag Mijatovic, whose job appears to depend on it, has busily added Lassana Diarra from Portsmouth and Klass-Jan Huntelaar from Ajax to the side on the understanding that both would be eligible for the Champions League having not played in the competition this season.

However, the rules of European football's governing body, Uefa, also state that a club can only register one player who has already played in the Uefa Cup for the Champions League in January. Now Real must pick between Diarra and Huntelaar and abandon all hopes of signing Aston Villa's Ashley Young, who has also played in the Uefa Cup.

The Real coach, Juande Ramos, is now understood to prefer Valencia from their dwindling selection of options, although the clubs are light years apart in valuation, with Wigan rating the player at £15m and Mijatovic keen on taking him on loan.

Barcelona are, understandably, enjoying watching their great rivals suffer. Only David Beckham's move to join Ronaldinho at Milan being dubbed "los Galacticos to los Geriatricos" has caused more amusement than Real's misunderstanding of Uefa's transfer regulations.

The midfielders Xavi and Sergi Busquets have both signed new deals for the La Liga leaders and Yaya Touré will not be allowed to leave, even if Arsenal come calling. But a move for Atletico Madrid's Argentine striker Sergio Aguero is considered a possibility for next summer.

Spanish gold: Who Premier League clubs could plunder

Goalkeeper

Carlos Kameni is out of contract in the summer. The Cameroon keeper remains Espanyol's first choice and they must decide between selling him for around £3m now or losing him for free at the end of the season.

Defenders

Ivan Helguera has been released by Valencia and is understood to have received offers from one Premier League club as well as David Beckham's LA Galaxy. Current Spain international Juanito is free to negotiate a move away from Betis.

Full-back

Bruno Saltor will leave Almeria for nothing at the end of the season so the club will listen to offers for the 28-year-old in January. Bruno was superb under former manager Unai Emery as Almeria had an outstanding first season in the top flight last year and he could rejoin Emery at Valencia.

Midfielder

Diego Capel remains in and out of Seville's first team despite attracting interest from the Premier League in the summer and stepping up to the Spain squad.

Striker

Mohamed Tchite is Racing Santander's top scorer with five goals in 11 starts but the club will listen to offers for the Congo striker after sealing the return of giant Serbian forward Nicola Zigic.

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