Roberto Mancini had made signing Hazard his main priority this summer but has been forced to scrap his plans after the players agent demanded the Belgian international be placed amongst the highest earners at the Etihad Stadium.
The City hierarchy are unwilling to bow to his salary demands after it emerged that Lille won’t sell the much coveted 21-year-old for less than £30 million this summer amid interest from Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Real Madrid.
With the new Financial Fair Play rules imminent it’s rumoured that football administrator Brian Marwood is desperate for the club to be brought into line with the new regulations.
That has led Mancini to reshuffle his shopping list and has identified the exciting Belhanda who has starred for Ligue 1 surprise package Montpellier this season scoring 12 times from midfield.
Capable of playing on either wing or as an attacking midfielder the £7-million rated Moroccan would represent a significantly cheaper alternative to Hazard
The 22-year-old’s rapid progress at the Stade de la Mosson has led to a number of top European clubs to take an interest in a player likened to Robert Pires and current City star Samir Nasir.
One potential hitch for City is Belhanda’s volatile attitude that saw him earn a red card against Evian last week following a mass brawl and he could face a lengthy ban after punching Cédric Mongongu on this way to the dressing room.
The midfielder has already admitted he would like to cut his teeth across the channel although his preferred destination may rule City out of the running for his signature.
He said: “My dream is to play in England or Germany. Everybody wants to play in the Premier League. There are great clubs like Arsenal.”