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Old 24th January 2009, 14:39   #1
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Default £10 million Henry is new City target

£10 million Thierry Henry is new Manchester City target
Oliver Kay, Football Correspondent The Times
January 22, 2009

Manchester City have taken the first steps in an audacious attempt to bring Thierry Henry back to the Barclays Premier League at the end of the season. The former Arsenal forward is next on their list of superstar targets after the failed bid to sign Kaká from AC Milan.

City have not approached directly Henry or his club, Barcelona, but, undeterred by their frustrating experience in Italy, they have identified the 31-year-old as a player who fits their need for an iconic signing to raise their commercial profile as well as their prospects on the pitch. Preliminary moves have been made to gauge his availability and whether he would want to return to English football as part of a broad-reaching “project” similar to that which they had hoped to sell to Kaká.

The process is at an early stage but City, having determined that a deal cannot be done during this transfer window, are eager to continue with a feasibility study. They will then decide whether to meet Barcelona’s valuation, which is likely to be about £10 million, and match the player’s contract in Spain, which is thought to exceed £100,000 a week.

The January transfer window has been difficult for City, with a world-record £103 million bid to sign Kaká ending in disappointment on Monday and other targets slipping through the net. These include not only Gianluigi Buffon, the Italy goalkeeper, who Juventus said was not for sale at any price, and Lassana Diarra, who moved from Portsmouth to Real Madrid, but also, it has emerged, Yaya Touré, the Barcelona midfield player, and the Valencia pair of David Silva and David Villa, two of the stars of Spain’s European Championship triumph last summer. City inquired with Valencia about the players before Christmas, only to be told that a combined price for them would be £135 million.

With their rivals seeking to exploit City’s status as the world’s richest club after the takeover by Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, in September, the only additions this month have been relatively low-key, with Wayne Bridge, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy joining from Chelsea, Hamburg and West Ham United respectively for a combined cost of more than £40 million.

City retain an interest in Shay Given, despite three unsuccessful bids for the Newcastle United goalkeeper, and Roque Santa Cruz, the Blackburn Rovers forward, but the resistance met in both cases has led to irritation at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Garry Cook, the City executive chairman, has confirmed that the bid to sign Santa Cruz remains on the table. “The last I heard was that Blackburn were looking to bring in another striker before they make a decision,” Cook said. “Sam Allardyce is working through his issues and I fully respect that. We have made it quite clear we would like to see Santa Cruz at this club and we will continue with those talks.”

Robinho, the Brazil forward, has apologised to Mark Hughes, the City manager, by telephone and accepted a fine of two weeks’ wages, about £320,000, after leaving the club’s training camp in Tenerife without permission on Monday. Robinho flew back to Brazil for a “family matter”, despite Hughes rejecting his request to do so.

The player has been unsettled by renewed interest in him from Chelsea, but he intends to stay at City for the immediate future and will resume training in Manchester on Monday.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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