The Premier League champions hope to take advantage of the Basque club's current situation after coach Marcelo Bielsa offered his resignation, but will have to pay £32mEXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart
Manchester City are ready to capitalise on the current state of turmoil at Athletic Bilbao by renewing their interest in long-term target Javi Martinez.
Roberto Mancini, the City manager, is a huge admirer of the versatile midfielder and is ready to press ahead with a move as he looks to shore up the squad ahead of the coming season.
Athletic are shrouded in confusion after coach Marcelo Bielsa handed in his resignation on Friday, although there has been no official word on whether the 56-year-old’s decision has been accepted by the club.
Bielsa’s probable departure - over an altercation with a construction employee at the club’s training ground - could raise fresh doubts over Martinez’s future even though the 23-year-old has declared he will stay at the San Mames next term.
City would have to pay the full £32 million (€40m) buyout clause in the contract Martinez signed last summer, with Athletic refusing to negotiate on the asking price.
The fee has already deterred Bayern Munich and Barcelona from pressing ahead with moves this summer, but Mancini has scouted the former Osasuna man heavily and City are now ready to revive their interest.
Mancini feels Martinez, who has previously attracted interest from Manchester United, has the physical and technical strengths to thrive in the Premier League either in central midfield or defence.
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He has been capped eight times for Spain and has been named in their squad for the Olympics next month.
City are eager to bolster their squad as they look to retain their Premier League crown and win the Champions League in just their second campaign in Europe’s elite competition.
Martinez has been identified as a leading target, as has Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, who announced on Wednesday that he will not be extending his Gunners contract which expires next year.
City are favourites to land the Dutchman but due to concerns over Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations will refuse to offer him more than £198,000-a-week, the salary earned by Sergio Aguero.
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