World stars snub bumper payday at Man City
Manchester City's bid for a marquee January signing is being thwarted because the world's top superstars claim the club is "not serious", so they are turning their backs on £200,000-a-week wages.
The world's richest club urgently need an injection of top class talent to reignite a season that is in danger of falling away with a Premier League record of seven straight draws.
From a season that some felt would end with Champions League qualification, City are slipping behind. In response, the hierarchy have targeted some mouth-watering talent in the transfer window to help under pressure manager Mark Hughes.
There are some eye catching names linked to City, such as Fernando Torres, and the Manchester club would be happy to sign a cheque for £50 million for the Spanish striker. Such a bid was made in the summer and was rejected.
Not only would it be turned down again by Liverpool, but why would Torres want to join City? According to ESPN Soccernet sources not even a £200,000-a-week salary would turn his head.
Whatever the problems at Anfield, one of the world's best forwards is hardly likely to want to switch to City. And that might well be the view of other players at the summit of the game, putting the club's strategy of purchasing only the best players at risk.
As one source close to the transfer action at clubs such as City revealed; the very top players are still reluctant to move to Eastlands, and although Robinho signed for a British record £32.5 million, the suspicion remains he wanted to go to Chelsea, and on deadline day, when he moved, he thought he was going to Manchester United not City!
A source told ESPN Soccernet: "Players at the highest possible level don't necessary want to go there despite the offer of such big wages, because they are not serious...yet."
After spending almost £200 million on transfers since Sheikh Mansour's takeover, the club's hierarchy believe the squad has been improved to such a degree that only a few, high-quality acquisitions are required. Club officials say they are highly unlikely to sign more than one player in January, and only then if the asking price is realistic.
It's chicken and egg for City; they can lure future galacticos only when they make it into the Champions League, but they need them now to help them get there. An aging superstar might be more likely to take City's £10 million a year offer.
The Citizens are keen on the signature of Real Madrid star Guti in January. And Real's vice-captain has been taking English lessons ahead of a switch to the Premier League.
The Spanish international has struggled to get in the first-team since Real's huge spending spree in the summer, and is open to a move away from the Bernabeu.
Madrid are reportedly seeking a reasonable £4 million for the 33-year-old who has fallen out with coach Manuel Pellegrini after a dressing room row.
As for a big money capture, the best City can do is likely to be Ángel Di María from Benfica. Benfica are eager to move the Argentinean winger on in the upcoming window before a lower buy-out clause kicks in at the end of the season.
Chelsea and Manchester United were monitoring the situation but baulked at the asking price of £36 million for the 21-year-old. The Argentina international has three caps but hasn't got a spectacular goalscoring record.
Di Maria has been viewed by City as a replacement for Robinho should the Brazilian eventually move to Barcelona, although that is now looking less likely, certainly in January.
The alternative for City, if they cannot attract the right players, is to find a manager who can make it happen, and that is going to put huge pressure on Hughes to get it right.
Jose Mourinho would be a big draw for top layers as it would send out the message, that if he turned up at Eastlands, then perhaps they should join him.
That in turn increases the pressure on Hughes, and with Mourinho indicating he wants a return to English football, there are only three clubs who could possibly afford him - City, Liverpool (once they obtain new investors) and Manchester United (once Sir Alex retires - and there's no sign of that).