By Greg Stobart
Robin van Persie may be the next man who Manchester City want to help their quest for domination of European football, but the Premier League champions are taking a pragmatic approach to their transfer business this summer.
City’s bulging squad and Uefa’s impending financial fair play rules dictate that the club's Abu Dhabi owners can no longer simply throw money towards new players without thinking through the consequences.
City are understood to be fuming over reports that manager Roberto Mancini is unhappy that the club are yet to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal, with insiders insisting that the Italian was told when he signed a new contract that there would be no movement until players who featured in Euro 2012 returned from holiday.
Interim chief executive John Macbeath and football administration officer Brian Marwood want to free up space in the squad - and, crucially, the wage budget - to sign Van Persie by first offloading Emmanuel Adebayor.
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City also expect to sell one of Edin Dzeko or Carlos Tevez to make more room for Van Persie, who is also a target for Manchester United and Juventus after declaring that he will not sign another contract with Arsenal, with his existing deal set to expire next summer.
While reports have suggested that United are currently favourites to land the Dutchman, City are confident of completing a deal and believe that Arsenal are trying to drag them in to an auction that does not exist.
Both United and Juve are unlikely to offer more than £15m for Van Persie, who turns 29 next month, with City ready to offer a higher fee and blow their rivals out of the water with a £198,000-a-week salary package.
Van Persie scored 30 Premier League goals last season and was double player of the year in England - and he would undoubtedly offer another dimension to the City attack alongside the likes of Sergio Ageuro and Mario Balotelli.
The problem for City had been financial considerations as they look to comply with Uefa’s break-even rules having reported a £197m loss - the biggest in football history - in their last set of accounts.
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Tevez, for example, has frequently been a target for AC Milan but would have to accept a pay cut on his £198,000 basic weekly salary, while Bayern Munich pulled out of a move for Dzeko for similar reasons.
Mancini wants to sign an A-list centre forward, a versatile wide man and a central midfielder this summer as City attempt to retain their Premier League crown and challenge for the Champions League.
Van Persie has clearly emerged as their top target but enquiries have also been made over Napoli star Edinson Cavani and Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao should City fail to agree a deal for the Arsenal captain.
After missing out to Chelsea for Eden Hazard, club executives are keen to deliver Mancini at least two marquee signings this summer.
They have so far been put off a move for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez due to the Basque outfit's £32m asking price but Mancini wants to bolster his central midfield and is considering a move for Rennes star Yann M'Vila, while he is also a huge fan of Daniele De Rossi of Roma.
But any transfers will be with City's bank balance in mind. The club's Premier League triumph, lucrative sponsorship deals and Champions League participation will raise funds but they cannot afford to spend indiscriminately.