Roma defender Mehdi Benatia has agreed personal terms with Manchester City and is desperate to wrap up a £30m move to the Premier League in the next few weeks, but must wait for his current club to sign a suitable replacement before completing a lucrative summer switch.
Benatia was a tower of strength for Roma last season and helped the Giallorossi win 10 consecutive matches on their way to finishing 2nd in Serie A, but that form has alerted Europe's richest teams to his commanding presence in central defence.
The 27-year-old has been courted by Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Monaco over the last six months, but The Mirror believe City have won the race for his signature and a new partner for club captain Vincent Kompany at centre-back.
Pellegrini to keep spending
Manchester City have reluctantly accepted a £49m sanction from UEFA as they bid to impose Financial Fair Play regulations, but that clearly won't stop Manuel Pellegrini strengthening his squad this summer.
Pellegrini has made signing a top central defender as a long-term partner for Kompany his number one priority, with young French powerhouse Eliaquim Mangala the name most consistently mentioned in connection with a move to the Etihad.
Porto's eye-watering €50m valuation of the 22-year-old has put City off for now though, with Benatia viewed as a more cost-effective alternative that can come in and perform instantly.
On one condition
Benatia has made it patently clear to Roma over the last six weeks that he would love the chance to play in the Premier League next season, despite spending just a single season in the Eternal City following a £12m switch from Udinese last summer.
The 27-year-old has four years left on his contract at the Stadio Olimpico but Roma are prepared to reluctantly sanction his exit for a very tidy profit closing in on £20m, once they sign a centre-back of similar quality that can partner Leandro Castan capably next season.
City have informed Roma they are prepared to play a waiting game to get their man, but will return to negotiations over Managala if their plans are scuppered by a search for Benatia's replacement in the Italian capital.
Roma boss Rudi Garica has targeted Colombian defender Eder Alvarez Balanta as potential replacement, although thanks to his part in a strong run to the quarter-finals any talks with his club River Plate are on ice until the tournament concludes.
As a result Pellegrini is being patient with his search for a new talisman to ease the pressure on Kompany, who struggled with injuries at times last season and was missed terribly when out of action, despite City's storming run to a second Premier League crown.