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Man City step up bid to entice Kevin De Bruyne to the Etihad

Manchester giants offer 'astonishing' salary after tough Champions League draw

By Sam Wallace

Manchester City have made an "astonishing" salary offer to Kevin de Bruyne, Wolfsburg's director of sport Klaus Allofs has revealed.

Allofs, speaking in Monaco after the Champions League draw, said negotiations with City over a move had come closer to an agreement - the Bundesliga side are thought to want £54million for the Belgium midfielder.

The Wolfsburg director admitted his side could not compete with the financial muscle of the Premier League in general - and City in particular after their salary offer to the 24-year-old.

He said: "He's had an astonishing offer from City and we can't compete with that. We had to take it seriously and that is the way we react with our players and finally we decided to start negotiations.

"During the day we have gone on with negotiations and we've got closer to each other. But the deal is not already done. So hopefully we will find an end.

"I would prefer to keep him, not to get the money. But the money now is really the issue because Kevin was qualified with Wolfsburg for the Champions League and he was a key player and took the next step.

"At Chelsea he was not that good and I know the story because I took him to Werder Bremen two years before and then to Wolfsburg. It will be very difficult to compete with the Premier League in the future.

"It is a big blow if he is leaving Wolfsburg but it's a difficult situation. Have a look at the statistics. Kevin had I don't know how many assists and he scored 10 goals so he is a key player for Wolfsburg."

Allofs said the Premier League's television money posed a huge challenge for all of German football.

He added: "Even the last team in the Premier League have much more TV money than Bayern Munich. It's a big task for our league to get more money out of TV rights and we have to compete with that and hopefully we can."

City's Champions League curse returned to haunt them after they were drawn with last season's finalists Juventus and Europa League winners Sevilla for the group stage.

City, who have suffered tough draws in the last four seasons of the Champions League, were selected in Group D - with the other team being Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

Arsenal also face a tough task in Group F against Bayern, who have eliminated the Gunners from the competition in two out of the last three seasons - but have more straightforward opposition from Greek side Olympiakos, who are in the middle of a match-fixing scandal, and Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will have a return to former side Porto, who he took to Champions League glory in 2004, and his side should have little trouble in Group G with Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Manchester United's return to the competition after last year's absence should also not trouble manager Louis van Gaal too much, with the opponents in Group B being PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and German side Wolfsburg. They were drawn out by Javier Zanetti.

City's head of football administration Brian Marwood admitted the club seemed to experience bad luck in Champions League draws.

He said: "It's the best 32 clubs in Europe so you have to expect there will be some tough games in there and we do always seem to draw very difficult groups, but it is what it is, we have to deal with it and we'll hopefully progress.

"I'm sure they are looking at us and seeing the talent we have in our squad, and you'd like to think they are not happy about drawing us."

Marwood refused to state what the club regarded as a minimum target for manager Manuel Pellegrini, however.

He added: "We have our internal targets and they will be kept internal, but of course we are very ambitious; we want to get as close to winning it as we possibly can. We're in it to compete, not just to get through the group stage; it has to be more than that."

Arsenal's group has a familiar look. As well as the Bayern connection, the Gunners and Olympiakos have now been drawn together in the group stage for the fourth time in seven seasons.

David Miles, Arsenal club secretary, admitted to feeling a chill when the Gunners were put into Bayern's group.

He said: "The draw started ominously when we were picked in Bayern's group but overall I think we can be relatively pleased."

This time however there have been questions marks over the Greek side's involvement - Uefa only confirmed Olympiakos' participation on Monday after sport's highest court rejected an appeal by rivals Panathinaikos.

Panathinaikos had challenged a Uefa appeals body decision in June to admit Olympiakos, whose owner Vangelis Marinakis was banned from football in June by a Greek magistrate.

He was released on bail as investigations continue into allegations that a criminal organisation is controlling the domestic game - but he was present at the draw.

Meanwhile, Carlo Cudicini, global ambassador for Chelsea, insisted the Stamford Bridge club did not have an easy draw.

He said: "This not an easy draw at all - I don't think going to Tel Aviv and Kiev are easy trips.

"Maccabi are champions of Israel with a manager (Slavisa Jokanovic) who is an ex-Chelsea player and knows English football very well indeed."

Elsewhere, Real Madrid and Paris St Germain will meet in Group A along with Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo.

Holders Barcelona are in an easy-looking Group E along with Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov of Belarus.

Group A

Paris St-Germain

Shak. Donetsk

Real Madrid


Group B

PSV Eindhoven

CSKA Moscow

Man United


Group C



Atletico Madrid


Group D



Manchester City

B m'CHENGladbach

Group E


AS Roma

Bayer Leverkusen

BATE Borisov

Group F

Bayern Munich



Dinamo Zagreb

Group G


Dynamo Kiev


Maccabi Tel-Aviv

Group H

Zenit St P'burg




Group H

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