Man City Is Ready To Raid Madrid

Manchester City are ready to send shock-waves through their rivals by opening talks on a triple swoop for Real Madrid stars Gonzalo Higuain, Rafael van der Vaart and Fernando Gago.

Roberto Mancini has again been promised a huge war chest in a bid to fight for the title this season and believes the three La Liga stars can take his side to the next level - according to Spanish newspaper Marca, which has close links to the Bernabeu.

Eastlands officials are said to be already in the Spanish capital to talk business as Madrid prepare to sell off some of their expendable players for their own assault on the transfer market. Jose Mourinho will not be allowed the same mega-budget as last year, meaning players need to leave to fund moves for the likes of Benfica star Angel di Maria, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard and Chelsea left back Ashley Cole.

City came close to signing tough-tackling midfielder Gago in January and have also monitored Higuain's stuttering contract talks at the Bernabeu. It seems they are now also keen on Holland playmaker Van der Vaart, who has been linked to Manchester United in recent days.

Mourinho will get a veto on the deals and Argentina international Gago established himself as a regular pick in the second half of the season, ahead of Lassana Diarra.

Argentina striker Higuain was Madrid's top scorer in La Liga but is not seen by his bosses as a 'Galactico' and talks to increase his salary have been far from satisfactory. The 22-year-old is on just £15,000 a week and wants a deal closer to £80,000, but the latest offer put to his representatives is believed to be closed to the £50,000 mark.

Van der Vaart is another player who won over coach Manuel Pellegrini last season after starting the season without a squad number and being earmarked for the exit. The 27-year-old proved to be a consistent performer towards the end of the season, but his future is now again in doubt as Madrid target a host of midfielders such as Di Maria, Gerrard, Valencia's David Silva and Roma captain Daniele de Rossi.

Silva, however, is another player City are reportedly chasing with Spanish daily AS claiming Manchester City chief executive Gary Cook is set to arrive in Valencia on Thursday to discuss a move for the one-time Manchester United transfer target.

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