Manchester City’s difficulties in the January transfer window have been revealed with the revelation that club had also tried and failed to sign David Villa, Gianluigi Buffon and Thierry Henry before their aborted £91m world-record bid for Kaka.
The club sent a delegation to Valencia in December in an attempt to sign Villa and his Spain team-mate David Silva. City were willing to pay around £100m but pulled out when Valencia asked for £135m. “They wanted us to bankroll their club for the next four seasons,” one of the men involved in the deal told The Guardian.
A City delegation also travelled to Turin to open talks with Juvenus for Buffon, the Italy goalkeeper, but again, City withdrew after they were quoted a fee of £100m
“We’re not anybody’s fool,” Garry Cook, City’s executive chairman, said last night.
“We’ve turned down negotiations for three different players because we felt the demands both from the [selling] club and, in essence, the players have been ludicrous. Our experience in this window is that clubs have been trying to do that to us. We chose not to engage any further in those conversations and [the manager] Mark Hughes fully understands that. The perception that we are out there throwing money around is simply not true.”
Villa and Silva were, it transpires, the first players Hughes identified when the Abu Dhabi United Group told him he could target any footballer in the world.
Lassana Diarra was another of Hughes’s targets before he moved from Portsmouth to Real Madrid for £20m last month. However, City’s information was that the transfer would cost £6m in agents’ fees and they withdrew.
City were willing to offer around £25m for Barcelona striker Henry but the deal never got that far after Henry decided he did not want to move in January.