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Wednesday, April 1, 1998 Published at 02:43 GMT 03:43 UK

Sport: Football

Kinky in Holland
image: [ Kinkladze on his way to scoring a spectacular goal against West Ham in this season's FA Cup ]
Kinkladze on his way to scoring a spectacular goal against West Ham in this season's FA Cup

Manchester City have confirmed that their midfield genius Georgi Kinkladze has had transfer talks with Ajax.

The 24-year-old Georgian spent Tuesday in Holland talking to the Dutch side, but he has not yet signed a deal.

[ image: City manager Joe Royle]
City manager Joe Royle
"He's gone for preliminary talks and they're only preliminary talks because there's still no definite deal between the clubs," said City manager Joe Royle.

"Ajax have been in contact for a while, but we received a fax requesting a meeting with Gio and he left this lunchtime," said Royle on Tuesday evening. "Ajax have shown an interest for a while, but it's now gone one little step further."

No fee has been mentioned, but City will want £5.5m for Kinkladze, who cost them £2m when he signed from Dinamo Tbilisi in 1995.

City director Dennis Tueart stressed: "Any deal will have to have benefit for Manchester City Football Club. He was promised he could move if he wanted to and we will respect his wishes. But at the moment he's still a Manchester City player."

Royle is prepared to let Kinkladze leave Maine Road and has left him out of matches even though the club are teetering on the brink of relegation to the Second Division for the first time in their history.

The Georgian has been plagued with problems this season, with a string of niggling injuries restricting his appearances and a charge of dangerous driving hanging over him after he crashed his Ferrari last October.

Kinkladze signed a new contract to keep him at Maine Road until 1999 last year, but was promised that if City were not promoted to the Premiership this season and he wanted to leave, the club would not stand in his way.

The Dutch transfer deadline has now passed, so if Kinkladze did move to Ajax, he would not be eligible to play for them until next season.

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