Manchester City could be about to pull off its first major high-profile signing since the capture of Robinho after it was confirmed that the Middle Eastern-backed club has begin proceedings to sign David Villa from Valencia.

Fernando Gomez, vice president of the financially stricken Spanish outfit, has revealed that representatives from both parties formally met recently to open preliminary talks, although there have been no official offers made just yet.

However, Barcelona-based daily Sport believes that at the moment, City is the only club willing to meet Villa's $51 million asking price. Not only that, the club is also more than prepared and capable to pay cash in advance even though the player would not be able to move to Eastlands until the summer.

It is also reported that Valencia is eager to close the deal as soon as possible, preferably by some time next week, to help ease its financial woes as it has a non-negotiable requirement to pay off a series of debts by the end of May.

Numerous other clubs still remain in the hunt for Villa's signature and his suitors could begin a bidding war upon learning that the striker is now officially up for sale. The likes of Juventus, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all shown their interest in the 27-year-old previously, but they will have to meet the condition of paying an advanced transfer fee.

It is believed that Valencia recently shot down an offer from Juve because the Serie A giants were not ready to part with $25 million upfront.

Los Che, meanwhile, have already lined-up Sporting Lisbon's Liedson as Villa's replacement.

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