City Pay Bellamy £2.5m To Join Cardiff

Manchester City will pay £2.5million to wash their hands of Craig Bellamy - and they have told axed keeper Shay Given he can go, too. As City took their summer spending to around £126m by completing their protracted £26m move for James Milner, Bellamy sealed his shock season-long loan to Championship club Cardiff.

The controversial Wales striker, 31, will continue to earn the £85,000 a week he was paid at City and his new club will pay only around £35,000 of that, leaving the Premier League big spenders to pick up the £50,000 weekly shortfall. City's generosity shows how keen manager Roberto Mancini was to remove Bellamy from his playing staff, but he was equally determined not to allow him to join a Premier League rival.

The City manager made it clear he feels differently about the Republic of Ireland's Shay Given, who is weighing up his future after losing his place in the team to Joe Hart. Given has been offered a two-year contract extension but Mancini said he would 'respect' the 34-year-old's decision if he asks to leave. "I can say that I hope he will stay with us. But I accept his position. I hope that he can stay with us because we have four competitions. But I respect his wishes if he wants to leave," said Mancini.

Despite Mancini's comments, official permission to speak to other clubs has not been granted and the only firm interest has come from Fulham, where Mark Hughes is keen to link up with the keeper he signed for City.

But Given does not seem keen on a move to Craven Cottage and, if clubs like Arsenal remain silent, he may yet choose to stay at City until January. Milner, meanwhile, was in Manchester last night to complete his medical and will join City in a deal which will see Aston Villa receive Stephen Ireland - rated at about £10m - and a further £16m. Ireland will receive a pay-off from City of £1m.

"Milner's a good player, he can play in different positions," said Mancini before wishing Bellamy well in his loan move to Cardiff. "I'm happy for Craig," he added. 'I hope he has a fantastic season." Cardiff pulled off their coup with the help of Malaysian backers Vincent Tan and Dato Chan Tien Ghee, who offered extra support to allow the club to exceed their £20,000-aweek wage ceiling.

Exclusively by Neil Moxley

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