PEP GUARDIOLA is ready to take on Manchester United in the battle to sign Thiago Alcantara this summer.
United have earmarked Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago as one of their top transfer targets this summer as they plot a major overhaul of their squad.
But they face serious competition from local rivals City with Guardiola keen on working with the Brazilian for the third time in his career.
The Mail say Guardiola believes the 27-year-old is the player he needs to help rebuild a midfield at the Etihad that is starting to grow old.
City are aware several players in that area of their squad are approaching the final years of their careers.
Yaya Toure is expected to leave the club this summer, while Fernandinho and David Silva are both the wrong side of 30.
Shaktar Donestk midfielder Fred has already caught their eye, and the £50million-rated player is regarded as a potential natural successor to Fernandinho.
Now it appears Thiago is under consideration to come into the ball-playing role in the squad, with Silva, 32, likely to be used more sparingly from next season.
Guardiola has admitted: “Next season, David maybe will not play every game, that’s why the squad has to be big.”
Thiago worked with the City boss when he was at Barcelona, and linked up with him again at Bayern in 2013.
On that occasion he rejected the advances of United to make the move to Munich, but the Old Trafford club has retained a strong interest since then.
Jose Mourinho sees the Brazilian international as the ideal player to come into his squad as he tries to close the gap on City at the top.
Michael Carrick is retiring this summer, while Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata could all be on the way out of the club.
But should Guardiola follow through with his interest it would be hard for Thiago to spurn the chance to link up with his former boss for the third time in his career.
He is under contract with Bayern for another three years, but the club are bracing themselves for a big money bid of around £50m this summer.