Manchester City's director of football, Txiki Begiristain, has met the agent of Chelsea target Manuel Pellegrini, to discuss the possibility of the Malaga coach taking over at the Etihad Stadium, reports The Guardian.
The 59-year-old's representative, Jesus Martinez, had lunch with Begiristain in Madrid on Monday, fuelling speculation that the Chilean is being lined up to replace Roberto Mancini this summer.
Mancini's future hangs in the balance, with senior officials at Manchester City believed to be waiting for the outcome of the club's FA Cup final clash with Wigan Athletic at Wembley on May 11, before deciding on whether or not they should part company with the Italian.
Pellegrini is understood to have a €4million buy-out clause in his Malaga contract - which runs until the end of next season - though he has recently suggested he may leave the Primera Division outfit at the end of the 2012/13 campaign, due to growing financial uncertainty that prompted the club to fall behind in paying his salary.
Chelsea have also expressed an interest in replacing interim manager Rafa Benitez with Pellegrini; a manager with a reputation for playing a brand of attractive and attacking football, that will certainly go down well with Stamford Bridge owner Roman Abramovich.
The South American tactician is also renowned as a disciplinarian, and could be the perfect appointment to oversee the changing of the guard in west London, with the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry entering the twilight of their respective Chelsea careers.
However, if Begiristain's meeting with Martinez is anything to go by, then the Blues could face competition from Manchester City to secure Pellegrini's services, as Mancini prepares for showdown talks with the club's board in Abu Dhabi immediately after the season ends.