Manchester City are determined to avoid breaking their wage structure even if means missing out on top targets, sources have told ESPN FC.
The Premier League champions were in the race to sign Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong before he agreed to join Barcelona in an €75 million deal.
ESPN FC has been told that Barca was De Jong’s first choice but City backed off when they were unwilling to match the 21-year-old’s salary — reported to be around €16m a year plus easily-obtainable bonuses.
De Jong was City’s top target in their efforts to find a successor to holding midfielder Fernandinho, who turns 34 before the start of next season.
But it’s not the first time they have stepped back from a deal over wages, having baulked at the salary demands of Alexis Sanchez when he left Arsenal to join Manchester United 12 months ago.
City are determined to take a more pragmatic approach to wages and try to avoid friction in the squad.
Pep Guardiola also claimed that it is difficult for Manchester City to challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid in the transfer market and that they need to get business done quickly.
“If you are the only one who want players it’s easy. But if you want one and many, many clubs want him it’s more complicated, especially if it’s Madrid or Barcelona,” he said.