The England winger has expressed his frustration at not getting enough game time at the Etihad Stadium and the Black Cats are close to providing him with an escape route.
Talks between the champion and the club which Johnson supported as a boy are already at an advanced stage and the former Middlesbrough player is expected to complete a move back to the North East early next week.
The 25-year-old is yet to agree personal terms with Sunderland, which would be open to taking the player on a 12-month loan deal should they be unable to come close to matching his 75,000 pounds-a-week wages, although City is not keen on that option.
Johnson, 25, was part of City's Premier League title-winning squad last season but has not started a top-flight game since March and expressed his dissatisfaction at the situation after he impressed during England's 2-1 win over Italy in midweek.
"I'm the kind of player that needs to be playing regularly. Any player does, really, no matter what age they are. I need to play week-in week-out," he said. "You can't just go into one game after not having played for five and be expected to perform. I'm not sure if I'll get that chance at City."
Johnson moved to the Etihad Stadium in January 2010 and quickly established himself as one as the most exciting attacking talents in the country. But his relationship with Roberto Mancini has never been a smooth one, with the Italian rarely trusting the winger to start City's pivotal matches.
Sunderland, which began its Premier League campaign with an encouraging goalless draw away against Arsenal on Saturday, has been quiet in the transfer market so far this summer, recruiting only Carlos Cuellar and Louis Saha on free transfers.
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