Manchester United are reportedly stepping up their chase of Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, but may have to do battle with rivals Manchester City, who are also interested in acquiring the French defender’s services, if they are to sign the highly-rated international.
Mangala has impressed in the Portuguese top-flight over recent years and has been the subject of much Premier League interest, despite the £32million price-tag that his current club has placed on him.
It seems now that it could be a straight race between City and United to sign the commanding centre-back, who was part of France’s World Cup squad and has just returned from Brazil.
As of yet neither side have had a bid accepted for 23-year-old, but United are reportedly ready to increase their interest in the hope of jumping ahead of the their near neighbours.
Louis van Gaal’s side are keen to show their financial clout, having already secured deals for Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw as they look to reclaim their place among England’s elite.
And Mangala may be their most important transfer so far, as they urgently require a centre-back to replace Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, who both left the club this summer.
That is no small task, given that both will be forever remembered as two of the finest defenders to ever pull on the famous red shirt of United, but it also is why Mangala’s option of joining the Old Trafford based club is more appealing.
At City he may have the initial opportunity of Champions League football, but he will always be consigned to Vincent Kompany’s shadow.
With the Red Devils he can become the main-man in a defence that is in a transitional period. If he joins now, he immediately becomes the main star and the most vital member of a back-line which will be the basis of what van Gaal looks to build his success on.
With Shaw already involved, United may well sign a right-back while Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans will fight for a place alongside Mangala.
It means that there will be no egos to contend with, no established stars, just players with a determination to prove that United can break back into the top four and cope with life without Sir Alex Ferguson.
City may offer him instant success, but the chance to become part of this unique opportunity is surely worth more than that and if United do meet the asking price, he should jump at the chance.