Perhaps the most decisive transfer of last summer saw Robin Van Persie opt for Manchester United over Manchester City, with the now deposed Roberto Mancini frequently citing the Dutchman as a key factor in the Premier League title race.
This summer the two sides look set to go head to head over a player once again, but this time Manchester City might have a crucial advantage over their neighbours.
Both teams are reportedly interested in Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, and with former Barcelona men Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano on their board, Manchester City should feel confident that the Spanish team will be happier negotiating a deal with them over Manchester United.
Thiago is apparently keen to ensure he makes the Spain squad for the World Cup in Brazil next summer, and with Barcelona unlikely to be able to guarantee him first team football, the 22-year-old is prepared to move.
Manchester United have long been admirers of the midfielder, who has all the attributes you would expect of a Barcelona youth academy graduate. Thiago has been urged to stay at Barcelona by Xavi recently, but with Cesc Fabregas likely to be the next in line for a midfield spot at the club, it is easy to see why he might want to leave.
With Manchester United’s interest well known, it would be a coup if Manchester City could swoop for Thiago this summer, and it might be an important psychological blow after they surrendered the Premier League title to their neighbours so meekly.
As well as Begiristain and Soriano’s relationship with Barcelona, Manuel Pellegrini, who seems very close to being confirmed as the new manager at the Etihad, could give them an edge in their pursuit of Thiago, as a well-respected figure in Spain.
It would be difficult for Manchester United and their new manager David Moyes to see Thiago move to their rivals, but on this occasion Manchester City seem to have plenty of factors in their favour, and it would not be surprising to see the 22-year-old at the Etihad next year.
image: © castroquini2011