City tempting de Bruyne

Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is inching closer to a move to Manchester City, who are prepared to make him their club record signing at £54 million.
Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is inching closer to a move to Manchester City, who are prepared to make him their club record signing at £54 million.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Wolfsburg resigned to losing Belgian star after EPL giants make him 'astonishing offer'

LONDON • Manchester City are ready to break their club transfer record for the second time this summer in a sign of intent to regain the English Premier League crown.

Wolfsburg have confirmed they hope to complete the sale of Kevin de Bruyne for a fee believed to be £54 million (S$117 million), after City made the player an "astonishing offer" to join them.

Speaking in Monaco at the Champions League group stage draw, City's head of football administration Brian Marwood acknowledged the club are interested in signing the midfielder to extend the expensive strengthening of their squad and challenge for success in Europe's elite club competition.

He said the two-time Premier League champions were "hurt" and disappointed by last season's second place in the league and failure to progress beyond the last 16 in the Champions League.

He added that City's owners from Abu Dhabi are sanctioning spending to improve their standing.



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Wolfsburg's general manager Klaus Allofs confirmed in Monaco that negotiations with City are continuing, saying he hoped the deal would be finalised by today.

If completed, it would become the second highest transfer fee paid by an English club, behind the £59.7 million Manchester United paid for Angel di Maria last August.

It would also surpass the club record £49 million City paid Liverpool for Raheem Sterling earlier this summer. It will also take the club's summer spending past £150 million. Other new faces include Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi (£32 million) and England midfielder Fabian Delph (£8 million).

"We want to get as close to winning it as we possibly can," Marwood said of the Champions League. "We're in it to compete, not just to get through the group stage - it has to be more than that.

"We haven't been shy of spending money over the years because we have an ambition to be successful."

De Bruyne played a key role in helping Wolfsburg win the German Cup last season as they finished second to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga after he scored 16 goals and created 29 assists.

Allofs revealed that City made Germany's footballer of the year for 2014-15 an "astonishing offer". He would not confirm details of personal terms - expected to be around £250,000 per week - but said the impending sale illustrates the financial gulf between the Premier League and the Bundesliga.

City have also flexed their muscles on the field. Three games into the new season, they are the last remaining side with a perfect record: three wins, eight goals scored and none conceded.

And they head into today's home clash against newly-promoted Watford with the aim of proving that they have learnt lessons from last term's failure .

"We analysed what happened last season," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "It wasn't a disaster because we finished second and we were the team who scored the most goals, but we were not consistent.

"We lost points against teams who were fighting relegation so I think, after three games, you can see we have learnt those lessons.

"It is only August and we finish in May so it is important to keep playing, working and thinking in the same way as we are doing."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'CITY TEMPTING DE BRUYNE'. Print Edition | Subscribe