By Greg Stobart
Manchester United will make the first move for Arsenal star Samir Nasri with a £20 (€22) million bid as rivals Manchester City also prepare a swoop for the midfielder.
City manager Roberto Mancini is on the verge of sealing a £7m (€7.7m) deal for Gunners defender Gael Clichy and is ready to move for his team-mate Nasri if he misses out on Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez, who has recently reiterated his desire to sign for Barcelona.
United, however, are confident of landing the 24-year-old Frenchman, who has just one year left on his contract, despite Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's insistence last month that Nasri would not be sold to the Old Trafford club.
Ferguson will make a £20m (€22m) bid in the coming days to tempt Arsenal into selling a player who could leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, and the United chief is willing to go up to £25m (€27.7m) to add some much-needed creativity to his midfield.
Arsenal have offered Nasri a five-year deal worth £90,000-a-week (€100,000) but United are willing to hand him the £110,000 (€122,000) weekly salary he has been demanding from Emirates executives. Both offers pale in comparison to the £180,000-a-week (€200,000) City will put on the table if they make Nasri their top target.
It leaves Arsenal facing an anxious few weeks as key first-team players leave the club, with Clichy close to departing and captain Cesc Fabregas edging towards a €40m move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
Arsenal are likely to strongly resist any moves for Nasri but both Manchester clubs believe the Londoners could feel they have to sell because of the financial reality of the situation.
Nasri, who cost the Gunners £12m (€13.2m) in the summer of 2008, left himself open to a move to Old Trafford last month when United's interest first emerged following talks between third parties linked to United and the player.
“Do I want to go to United? We should see if their interest is real and if it is concrete first,” Nasri said.
United have turned their attentions to the France international as they believe Tottenham will refuse to sell playmaker Luka Modric while Wesley Sneijder's £170,000-a-week (€190,000) salary is a massive stumbling block in any move for the Inter star.
Ferguson has already spent in excess of £50m (€55m) this season after signing Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea but is targeting one more player – a creative midfielder – this summer.