Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has admitted he held secret talks to join Ligue 2 side Monaco at the end of last season and the French side were adamant the Italian was destined to move to the principality.
According to The Guardian, meetings were held over three months between Monaco and Mancini's representatives, with the last set of talks taking place the day after City lost 1-0 at Arsenal on Easter Sunday in April.
That defeat left City eight points adrift of Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League table with just six games of the season remaining. Mancini repeatedly stated City's challenge was over in the aftermath of Arsenal's victory until they usurped United with a 1-0 Mancunian derby victory in the antepenultimate league match.
Mancini reneged on moving to Monaco after City went on to win their first title since 1968 courtesy of Sergio Agüero's stoppage-time winner against Queens Park Rangers, and the Italian has since signed a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium in July.
Mancini's Monaco interest could put him under more pressure
And today the Italian confirmed last night's report.
"Last year I was very close with seven, eight teams but I prefer to stay here because I work well here the first three years," he said.
"Also, if someone thinks we didn't do a good job – we won three trophies in two years and I'm very happy, we work well."
During a meeting with Monaco's majority shareholder, the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a tax-free five-year contract worth €8m (£6.4m) a year - plus substantial bonuses - was offered to the former Internazionale manager. Despite Monaco's second-tier status, Rybolovlev, ranked 100th on the Forbes list of billionaires, is determined to rejuvenate a club which reached the 2004 Champions League final.
Had Mancini have accepted the offer he would have become the third best-paid manager in the world after Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain and Guus Hiddink at Anzhi Makhachkala.
The Italian, who refused to comment on the matter, is likely to be quizzed on Monaco's interest at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Although it is not a surprise Mancini considered options away from Manchester due to his estranged relationship with former football administrator Brian Marwood, his supposed shallowness could intensify the pressure on him in the wake of City's disastrous Champions League form.
City are yet to win in Europe this season
Two defeats to Real Madrid and Ajax - as well as a fortunate draw at home to Borussia Dortmund - have left the Citizens marooned at the foot of their group with just three games to play. They host Ajax in the return fixture on Tuesday.
City this week appointed Txiki Begiristain as their new director of football, downgrading Marwood to managing director of the club's academy. Begiristain and City's new chief executive, Ferran Soriano previously worked at Barcelona, which has increased speculation Pep Guardiola could replace Mancini next year.
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