Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has acknowledged for the first time that Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) regulation is impacting on his club's transfer-market business this summer, a marked change in personal perspective which had seemed for weeks to be at odds with his club's desire to rein in spending.
Ahead of a week in which loaned players the club badly needs off its payroll – including Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge – are due back at Carrington, Mancini said "financial fair play is for everyone" and that City would therefore not "do what everyone thinks we will and pay £10m more than other clubs" for players.
Mancini, who suggested on 20 May that City could "spend the money" this summer before FFP kicked in, appears to have been persuaded of the realities of the new financial landscape by his chief executive Garry Cook, who knows better than any at City that 2011-12 brings the start of the three-year monitoring period of FFP, during which clubs may post no more than £45m aggregate losses.
Extra commercial income will also help the long job of driving down City's £121m losses. A stadium naming rights deal had not, as of yesterday, been signed but such an agreement is a vital part of the commercial landscape ahead, with overall losses likely to exceed the £121m figure in October as City account for the £96.6m net expenditure plus wages of Jerôme Boateng, David Silva, Yaya Touré, Aleksandar Kolarov, Mario Balotelli and James Milner, who arrived too late to be factored into last October's published results.
Mancini, who suggested that the £9m deal for Partizan Belgrade's Stefan Savic has been done and hinted that the club might compete for Samir Nasri, made it clear he considers himself the leading force in the summer transfer negotiations. "I am the ultimate authority," Mancini said. "I participate in the life of the club and I organise the schedules for the players.
"I talk with agents and directors, as the first person they come to. Then, when a deal's almost done, people from the administrative side become involved. I am fully involved, there is nobody above me, and that is obviously a new thing, but I work in a great club with extraordinary owners." City's directors may not entirely agree with that view of the power structure.
The manager also declared that "our goal is to take the best players" and he reiterated his concern that if City do not strengthen enough they could find themselves back out of the Champions League after a season, like Tottenham Hotspur will be next season. "I do not want to just have a guest appearance after earning a [Champions League] place on merit," Mancini said. "We want to be among the leaders." The Italian also seemed to imply that City were ready to challenge Tottenham for Villarreal's Giuseppe Rossi. "For now, we have not [made contact]," he said.
Craig Bellamy wants to have his £90,000-a-week contract written off, freeing him to resume his career elsewhere, but that is unthinkable to City, whose balance sheet does not need a £14m write-off. Blackburn Rovers may possibly be willing to take on Bellamy's pay demands but they are as prohibitive as Emmanuel Adebayor's £165,000 earnings.
Buying clubs' awareness that bargains will come near deadline day may mean those City players who want out will still be around at the start of the season. As The Independent revealed last week, City's first summer signing is Arsenal left back Gaël Clichy, who is expected to undergo a medical at Carrington today.
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