The 34-year-old is reportedly spending the next month training at City and could be offered the chance to sign as a backup keeper if he impresses.
The 34-year-old American-born Puerto Rico international has reportedly linked up with City for a month in order for manager Manuel Pellegrini to get a closer look at him, and he could be offered a permanent deal as a backup to Joe Hart should he make a good impression.
The report comes after Saunders stood out as one of few bright spots for NYCFC during their inaugural campaign, recording an MLS-leading 123 saves in 33 regular season appearances as the expansion side’s backline issues contributed to a disappointing eight-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
City, meanwhile, have some problems in the keeping department at present, as Willy Caballero has failed to impress in his fleeting appearances as Hart's stand-in since signing from Malaga in the summer of 2014, while third-choice Richard Wright, who turned 38 earlier this month, has not seen a single minute of first-team action in his four seasons at the club.
It would not be a huge surprise if the Blues did bring in cover between the posts this winter ahead of a potential title push, therefore, although few would have suggested Saunders as a possible transfer target before now.
The Oregon native previously won back-to-back MLS Cup titles as the LA Galaxy’s No.1 in 2011 and 2012, but his fortunes took a drastic turn for the worst after he was released ahead of the 2013 campaign following the signing of Carlo Cudicini.
A serious knee injury suffered while playing for Real Salt Lake in July 2013 led to a career-threatening bone infection and six separate surgeries, and it was not until April 2014 that the 6ft 4 in custodian was able to start training again.
He has since battled back in impressive fashion with NYCFC to re-establish himself as a solid MLS starter, but at the same time, he is far from being considered one of the league’s elite shot-stoppers.
A potential City switch would certainly come as a shock to the vast majority of MLS observers – even when taking into account the links between the two teams, while it would be a strange decision for the Premier League side to deprive their sister club of their veteran No. 1 just for backup duties when Pellegrini can have his pick of low-cost keepers in the coming transfer window.
Saunders would likely struggle to obtain a work permit as things stand anyway, which would suggest that his reported spell at the Etihad Stadium is just for training purposes rather than with a view to a permanent move.