Roberto Mancini is plotting a shock bid to beat Chelsea to the signing of Barcelona star David Villa, according to the Daily Star.
Interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez is keen to take Villa to Stamford Bridge and boost his firepower.
But he looks like facing stiff competition from Manchester City rival Mancini.
Mancini is also looking to bolster his attacking options as City struggle to defend their Premier League title. The Italian has hit out at his misfiring strikers after seeing his side fall seven points behind leaders Manchester United.
Now he could make a move for Villa in the hope the Spanish superstar can revive his faltering title defence.
Villa is available on loan and City can easily match his £110,000-a-week wages.
Mancini wants to make room for Villa in his star-studded squad by getting rid of Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli has gone backwards at the Etihad this season and has fallen down the pecking order.
The Italian flop has suffered a loss of form and had several bust-ups with Mancini. Both AC Milan and Inter are keen to take Balotelli back to the San Siro and City bosses are eager to get the £150,000-a-week striker off the wage bill.
Arsenal are also interested in signing Villa but it is understood that the 31-year-old wants to link-up with fellow World Cup winner David Silva. Villa has not started a league game for Barca since November and wants regular first-team football.
He is not guaranteed this at the Etihad Stadium but would still be an integral part of City’s bid to win back-to-back titles.
Villa remains Spain’s record goalscorer but he has been hampered by injuries in the last 18 months. But Mancini reckons he would be an attractive short-term solution as he looks to get his side scoring again.
City have scored just seven goals in their last six games while crashing out of Europe and falling off the pace in the title race.