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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Hughes: City will not pay over the odds

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has warned potential sellers they will face a hard time negotiating with the Blues new owners during the January transfer window.

Hughes flew to Abu Dhabi this week for a meeting with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak to discuss future squad strengthening plans.

The City manager returned on Thursday with his own position reinforced, despite a woeful sequence of results that has seen the Blues register just one win in seven Premier League matches.

Hughes also knows he can start planning to improve his squad, with Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Lassana Diarra all thought to be on his shopping list, putting Blackburn, Chelsea and cash-strapped Portsmouth on red alert.

But while the Welshman has been assured cash will be made available from Sheikh Mansour's vast fortune, he does not feel that means City will be prepared to pay exorbitant fees for any potential new arrivals.

"There is a danger that people look at us, see a club that can be strong in the market and try to charge top dollar,'' he reflected. "But Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon are very astute businessmen. They have business projects all over the world that are managed correctly.

"The investments they make are done with cool business heads. That will apply to any acquisitions we want to make at Manchester City.''

Having already smashed the British transfer record to secure the services of Robinho, Sheikh Mansour has proved his ability to cause seismic shocks across the football world.

Ahead of tomorrow's trip to Hull, City fans are starting to wonder what other stellar talents might be on their way to Eastlands as the club look to push for a top-six berth.

However, Hughes intends to talk a considered look at his squad before giving the green light for a spending spree, knowing January is a notoriously difficult month to prise top talent away from their existing clubs.

"We need a balance in the squad, so we will pursue players we feel meet that target,'' he said. "That applies in all positions. It is a process I have been through many times before. Where there is an imbalance, we will try to address.''

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