Battle of wills highlights transfer drama

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MANCHESTER, England – The biggest deal of soccer's January transfer window hinges on a battle of wills between a billionaire Arabian royal and a remarkable Bosnian family that survived the siege of Sarajevo during the Balkan War.

With Manchester City in firm contention for the English Premier League title, owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nayhan is desperate to sign his No. 1 target, Bosnia-Herzegovina forward Edin Dzeko, who plays for the German Bundesliga team Wolfsburg.

Dzeko is the hottest available commodity in European soccer right now, and his size, skill and physicality have led many to suggest he could be the crucial factor that gets City over the line this season.

A transfer fee of $40 million is close to being rubber-stamped by Wolfsburg, but there is still the issue of Dzeko's wages to be resolved. And that, surprisingly, is where there is something of an impasse.

In theory, the wages should be the easiest thing to hash out. Sheikh Mansour's endless wealth means City is the best-backed club in the world; it has already handed out huge salaries to most of its first-team squad.

Midfielder Yaya Toure is paid more than $300,000 per week, while Dzeko makes around $70,000 per week in Germany. Even that amount would once have been beyond the wildest dreams of the 24-year-old and his family, which crammed 15 relatives into a two-room apartment during Dzeko's childhood.

However, sources close to the deal have confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that Dzeko and his family (who still act as his advisers) are holding out for $270,000 per week, knowing full well that his stock is at an all-time high and that City has the funds to satisfy whatever he demands.

City came in with an initial offer of around $185,000 per week, which Sheikh Mansour upped to more than $210,000 over the weekend. City has to be a little careful, though, as it does not wish to alienate its existing players by paying Dzeko an inflated figure.

This is a move that is virtually certain to be completed. Dzeko is ready to move, ready for the huge payday and also the chance to test himself in the English league, where he is confident he can thrive.

City wants him badly, and know that snapping him up early in January could add great momentum to its hopes of unseating league leader Manchester United and claiming its first league title in 43 years.

But the Dzekos know they can play hardball, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the saga is dragged out for a couple of weeks in order to push up his wages.

Beckham move idea sparked by family chat

David Beckham's proposed move to EPL side Tottenham Hotspur was sparked during a chance conversation in December with Jamie Redknapp, son of Liverpool manager Harry Redknapp.

The younger Redknapp, who played for Liverpool and England during a long career and also has a former pop-star wife, is a longtime friend of Beckham's. When Beckham informed his pal of his admiration for Spurs' style of play, the news quickly reached Harry Redknapp and discussions were set in motion.

Beckham has told Harry Redknapp that he will do everything in his power to convince the Los Angeles Galaxy to release him until the start of the MLS season in March. "David is dead keen for it to happen," Redknapp said.

The Galaxy have remained quiet since a statement two weeks ago in which they insisted Beckham would be required to report for preseason training in January. L.A. appears to be sticking to its guns, but Beckham will hope to persuade the club to relent during discussions this week.

A loan move would set up the intriguing prospect of Beckham playing against his former club Manchester United at White Hart Lane on Jan. 16.

Ronaldinho looks elsewhere

Speculation involving the Galaxy and Ronaldinho seems to have disappeared for the time being, although it appears that initial reports linking the Brazilian superstar with a switch to Southern California were way wide of the mark.

Despite some interest on the Galaxy's side, Ronaldinho's brother and agent, Roberto de Assis, told South American reporters that the player's first preference was always to return to Brazil after leaving AC Milan.

A move to Brazilian club Gremio now appears the most likely outcome, although there are a number of European clubs waiting to swoop if that deal falls through.