Manchester United could lose £40m target to Manchester City

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Manchester United's reluctance to sign Eliaquim Mangala in January could give local rival Manchester City the chance to swoop in, according to reports.

Respected Portuguese journalist Gonçalo Lopes claimed on Wednesday morning that Manchester United were only interested in requiring Porto's towering centre-back in the summer, when Nemanja Vidic is likely to depart Old Trafford.

However, following Porto's exit from the Champions League group stage, the Portuguese champions are staring down the barrel of a massive gap in their finances and may have to offload a major star in the January transfer window.

Meanwhile, Manchester City are growing increasingly aware of their defensive frailties while Joleon Lescott is expected to depart the Etihad in the near future in a bid to revive his international career.

It means Manuel Pellegrini is ready to make a major signing in the January transfer window and has earmarked Mangala as a potential replacement.

With Mangala cup-tied from European competition, Porto know they won't get the £40m they want for the French international half-way through the season but are willing to loan the player out in exchange for a cash advance on a permanent summer deal.

The curious situation may have given City the edge, who are ready to pounce on the opportunity should a space in the Etihad squad arises.

It's a blow for both Manchester United and Chelsea, who were both believed to be preparing summer moves for the 22-year-old.

Jose Mourinho is looking for a long-term successor to John Terry while David Moyes, more urgently, will need replacements for long-standing centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Vidic, who are both entering the last six months of their contracts at the Theatre of Dreams.

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