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Man City given permission to negotiate with Kaka

MANCHESTER City's pursuit of AC Milan midfielder Kaka intensified with an increased offer reportedly three times the world record and permission granted to negotiate directly with the Brazil star yesterday.

The Serie A club announced on its TV channel that it was considering a colossal offer from City. Mediaset, the broadcaster owned by Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, said it could top €150 million (US$196 million).

Despite the 26-year-old former world player of the year indicating on Wednesday that he wants to "grow old" at Milan, his spokesman, Diogo Kotscho, told yesterday that the player will listen to City's proposals.

"It's an exaggeration what they are saying in England, that it's almost a done deal, and it's an exaggeration that Kaka has rejected the offer," Kotscho said. "Milan has authorized the negotiation with Manchester City. ... The next step now is that Kaka's father (Bosco Leite) will eventually talk to Manchester City."

Leite, also his son's chief adviser, was likely to travel to England soon to assess what City has to offer, Kotscho said.

City often agrees to complex contracts with players, with salaries made up of image rights and bonuses relating to the team's position in the table.

Milan used its TV channel to discuss City's staggering bid.

"There is an offer from Manchester City for Kaka, and it is being considered by Milan," channel director Mauro Suma said. "Pondered does not mean decided or accepted. We're not looking at a decision taken or something done. There are still hours and days ahead."

If the transfer goes through, it would smash the world record set in 2001 when Real Madrid signed Zinedine Zidane from Juventus for US$65 million. A large percentage of the huge figures being mooted could go to the deal brokers.

Kaka, FIFA's player of the year in 2007, indicated on Wednesday that he would remain at Milan, but said "if one day they want to sell me, then it's a different story."

There were suggestions in Italy that Kaka would have to publicly announce his desire to leave so that the club he joined in 2003 from Sao Paulo wasn't seen to be happy releasing a crucial player for a huge profit.

"Kaka is a player that has done so much for the club," fellow Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf said yesterday. "If you look at it like that, this would still be doing something for the club -- bringing in a lot of money.

"This an offer that has to be thought of. ... He has to consider the pros and cons -- with the heart but also with the mind."

Kaka would be leaving a club that enabled him to win the Champions League in 2007 and was currently third in Serie A, for one that was 15th in the Premier League, just two points above the relegation zone, and without a major trophy since 1976.

For months, City manager Mark Hughes said he had been chasing Kaka for the January transfer window, which closes on Feb. 2.

"It is not something we have only thought of in the last week and decided to act," Hughes said. "It has moved forward at a pace this week. It is a football decision that has been done with a structure and an understanding that we can move it forward."

Hughes was more cautious than assistant manager Mark Bowen.

"We believe the deal is very close," Bowen told BBC radio. "Our understanding is that it is very much a strong possibility that Kaka will be coming to Manchester City."

Kaka has already discussed the attraction of playing in England with countrymen Robinho and Elano, who were both at City.

"I like very much the Premier League," Kaka said in November. "There are a lot of big players and a lot of big teams, so now I think it's the best championship in the world. So, one day maybe, I don't know when, but it would be great to play in England."

City, which signed England left back Wayne Bridge this month, was considered the only English club with lots of money to spend during the January transfer window since it was bought by a member of the United Arab Emirates' royal family in September. But after having bids rejected for West Ham's Craig Bellamy and Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz, Hughes said he will not be exploited by clubs trying to take advantage of City's wealth.

"We place a value on players and we stick to them. If clubs ask for too great a premium that is their choice," Hughes said. "I guarantee if the value is not good for Manchester City, we will walk away."

Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan broke the British transfer record to sign Robinho in September as he led the Abu Dhabi United Group's purchase of City for more than 200 million pounds.

City's owners have vowed to spend to mount a serious challenge to crosstown rival Manchester United, the reigning English and European champions.

"The process will take some time, but we are already trying to set those wheels in motion and to take that process forward," Hughes said.


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