By Greg Stobart
Roberto Mancini famously attempted to take the pressure off his players last season by declaring the title race ‘over’ - but he will be using a very different tactic in meetings with Manchester City officials before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
While caution and prudence have been the watchwords of the summer for City, Mancini has been increasingly desperate as he looks to improve his squad and boost the club’s chances of defending their Premier League crown.
Uefa’s financial fair play regulations are playing their part, acting as the counterpoint to the extravagant spending since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of the club in 2008, as City look to turn around the £195 million loss reported in their last set of accounts.
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Their Champions League participation, Premier League success and huge sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways will all help towards that goal - but the primary objective this summer for football administration officer Brian Marwood has been to ease the wage bill.
That does not mean, however, that City have embarked on a transfer policy in which they will not improve the squad, not spend big money to ensure an era of dominance, both at home and in Europe.
After all, if City have stopped spending, why did they bid £32m for Eden Hazard? Why did they try to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal?
That is at the heart of Mancini’s barely concealed frustration with Marwood and the City hierarchy. City have made huge bids for players this summer and chased stellar signings, but none of the big moves have come to fruition.
Yes, they signed Jack Rodwell from Everton, but Mancini would have much preferred Daniele De Rossi from Roma, or Athletic Bilbao’s highly-rated midfielder Javi Martinez.
City also made a bid of £18m for Liverpool defender Daniel Agger as they look to improve their defence and provide competition for Joleon Lescott as partner to captain Vincent Kompany.
So, with City chasing all these players throughout the summer, you can hardly say the well has dried up.
They have simply failed to land their targets, much to Mancini’s frustration.
Now, though, the window might kick into gear as City begin to trim their squad, freeing up wages and squad places.
Emmanuel Adebayor has finally completed his move to Tottenham, Roque Santa Cruz is expected to complete a permanent transfer to Real Betis, Adam Johnson is close to a move to Sunderland while Nigel de Jong is at the centre of a tug-of-war between the two Milan clubs.
If Edin Dzeko is sold to AC Milan as well, City will have trimmed well in excess of £500,000 from their monthly wage bill.
Scott Sinclair is set to arrive from Swansea to provide cover on the wings but, despite being mindful of FFP, the funds are available for City to make a statement signing before September 1.
Goal.com revealed this week that City are in advanced talks with Fiorentina over a £23.6m move for Fiorentina attacker Stevan Joveticwhile they also want to sign his team-mate, defender Matija Nastasic.
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Mancini himself has been spending time in London in recent days, fuelling speculation around City’s Carrington training centre that the club are working on a marquee transfer deal.
Edinson Cavani, the Napoli striker, has long-been admired by Mancini and City could make a move for the Uruguayan after missing out on Van Persie, who signed for Manchester United last week.
Cavani scored 33 goals in all competitions for Napoli last season and would be considered an upgrade on Dzeko should City beat off competition from Chelsea for his signature.
The player’s agent has made it known to both Chelsea and City that Cavani could be sold this summer as the 25-year-old is in dispute with Napoli over a new contract.
He would represent the kind of A-list signing that would ease Mancini’s frustration - and there is an increasing sense that City will still make strides in the transfer market this summer.
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