Fernandinho has emerged as a major target for Manchester City as manager Roberto Mancini looks to rebuild his squad in the wake of their failure to retain the Premier League title.
But the Brazil international midfielder’s club Shakhtar Donetsk have warned that City “are not at our level” and he will not be allowed to leave for less than his £42.3 million (€50 million) release clause.
Mancini has urged City to learn the lessons of last summer, when they left their business until the end of the transfer window and missed out on the players he wanted most, including midfielders Javi Martinez and Daniele De Rossi.
Now they have acted swiftly in their pursuit of 27-year-old Fernandinho, who joined Shakhtar from Atletico Paranaense in a £7 million deal in 2005.
The player, capped five times by Brazil, has helped Shakhtar to win the Ukrainian league for the sixth time in eight seasons.
A box-to-box midfielder who averages almost a goal every five games, he said in December that he would be moving to Manchester in January, although he has stayed in Donetsk for the remainder of the campaign.
But Shakhtar, unlike City, reached the last 16 of the Champions League, and manager Mircea Lucescu told PRO TV: “If our players receive offers from teams higher than Shakhtar, we do everything possible to help them.
“Currently, I think Manchester City are not at our level. If City want to [sign Fernandinho], the clause is €50 million.”
Mancini signed two central midfielders last summer, but Jack Rodwell has been limited to four league starts by injury while Javi Garcia has failed to cement a place in the team.
Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure’s regular partner in midfield, is out of contract in 2014 and, although Mancini is keen for the Englishman to stay, no new deal has been agreed.
The manager is also interested in signing Napoli top scorer Edinson Cavani to bolster his attack.