In the red corner, we have Jose Mourinho.
Angry, exasperated, full of sarcastic jibes and armed with a shed-load of cash and Luke Shaw’s head on a spike, the Man United boss will be very keen to improve his flailing squad this summer.
But in the blue corner, there’s Pep Guardiola.
Handsome, well-dressed and also with a pretty penny or two to spend, he boasts a very successful season for Man City and a style of football that’s universally adored.
It seems the gulf between the two great clubs of Manchester is growing steadily wider, but with United’s history and pulling power – not to mention the wages they can offer – they’re still able to complete with their bitter rivals in the transfer market, at least.
Just ask Alexis Sanchez.
And it’s just as well really, because it seems both clubs have got their beady eyes on the same players this summer.
So who are these desirable fellows and which colour will they donning next season?
1 Jorginho (Napoli)
If you love football, then you need to look up this guy.
The Brazilian-born Italy international has been the linchpin of Napoli’s exquisite pass-and-move philosophy over the last couple of seasons, averaging 97 passes-per-game in Serie A this term according to those folks over at Who Scored.
And it’s highly possible the Neapolitan side will want to cash-in on the midfielder this summer, especially with a number of Premier League clubs interested, with United seemingly in pole position.
Mourinho will be all too aware that midfield lieutenant Michael Carrick is retiring at the end of the season and will leave an almighty gap behind in the centre of the park.
But we sincerely believe Jorginho would much prefer life under Guardiola, who’s tactical style is tailor-made for the deep-lying playmaker. But of course, money talks.
Where will he go? United will probably fork-out top dollar to get him, but we’d love to see him at City.
2 Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Ah yes, a Brazilian with a less-than-flair name cutting his teeth in the bizarre backdrop of Ukraine.
Shakhtar have been well-stocked when it comes to exciting South American stars over the years, with Chelsea’s Willian and City’s Fernandinho both making a name for themselves in the orange and black shirt.
And it seems Fred is the latest name on their conveyor-belt of talent.
He made plenty of headlines last month when he hit that rather sweet free-kick in the Champions League against Roma, but it seems Guardiola knew his name long before then.
Tipped to replace Yaya Toure in the side next season and a natural heir to Fernandinho, City were heavily linked with a move for the 24-year-old back in January and will likely make another move for him at the end of the season.
Of course, United are interested as well, with Shakhtar’s chief executive Sergei Palkin saying earlier this month: “Fred will leave in June. If not to Manchester City, then to Manchester United.”
Where will he go? Hard to say, but we think City have the edge.
3 Jerome Boateng (Bayern)
Everyone wants Boateng at the moment, which is stark contrast to when City let him leave for Germany back in 2011.
Since then, he’s quietly become one of the best defenders in the world, winning countless honours – including the World cup – and he could be available for around £50million this summer.
Guardiola is said to be a massive fan, having worked with him at Bayern, but United seriously need to bolster their backline next season, with Chris Smalling just one of the names linked with an end of season exit.
Where will he go? The German international would be foolish to leave Bayern, but we can seriously see United paying out for him.
4 Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
Known as ‘the Serbian Sergeant’ in Rome, Milinkovic-Savic is enjoying a fantastic season in Serie A and is strongly regarded as one of the finest young midfielders in Italy.
As you’d expect, a number of clubs are keeping tabs, including Inter and Juventus, as well as the usual rabble from the Premier League.
United are reportedly prepared to make a bid once the season ends, while Liverpool and City are keeping an eye or two as well.
We reckon Mourinho would love to put him alongside his compatriot Nemanja Matic, while he seems like a slightly easier target to get hold of than Jorginho.
Where will he go? We reckon United, but Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit in recent weeks.
5 Neymar (PSG)
Here’s one just to raise a smile.
Earlier this week, Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo claimed that United and City will compete for the signing of Neymar this summer, if the Brazilian decides he wants to leave the shackles of Paris Saint-Germain.
We’re not too sure on this one, especially as Real Madrid remain the favourites to snap him up. Plus we shudder at the thought over how much he might cost.
Where will he go? Having moved from Barcelona for £197million just last summer, we seriously can’t see him going anywhere. But if we had to guess, then we can see Real Madrid getting him above anyone else.
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