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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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City chief Cook points finger at Milan

Manchester City executive chairman Garry Cook has accused AC Milan of 'bottling it' over Kaka's proposed transfer.

Cook returned from Italy in sombre mood last night after the Brazilian decided not to accept City's amazing £108million offer.

He always knew negotiations would be tricky. But he feels Milan's celebrations belied the knowledge they were willing to sell their favourite son.

''The player was clearly for sale,'' Cook told BBC Radio Five Live. ''We had entered into a confidentiality agreement weeks ago but, in my personal opinion, they [Milan] bottled it.''

As Cook confirmed, negotiations had been ongoing for weeks, with Milan in full knowledge of the significance of their move.

''We had gone through a three or four-stage process in which Milan made it quite clear Kaka was for sale and we made it clear we intended to bring him to Manchester City,'' he said. ''As we got to the next stage there were questions they could not answer and I think the political and public pressure made them change their conditions.

''We never even met the player. We met his representative, his father, but we had discussed commercial terms only.''

The chastening experience confirms just how difficult City will find it to compete with the world's biggest clubs from their current position in the bottom half of the Premier League.

Owner Sheikh Mansour is keen for City to move quickly, which is why a world superstar like Kaka was identified.

But Cook felt that rather than looking at the wider picture, the deal just turned into one about money.

''The agenda we thought we were on was about Kaka coming on a journey with this club but at the end the only journey they were on was a fiscal one,'' added Cook.

''We'll continue on our journey but he won't be a part of it. Deals with the greatest players are more than complex. It would have been great to have him with us but what got in the way was the behaviour of AC Milan and I think they bottled it.

''We got to talk to Kaka's father. His father said he was very interested in the project and we talked about humanitarian potential factors but when we got into discussions those issues took a back seat and financial demands came to the fore.''

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