Manchester City are set to beat title rivals United to the £25 million signing of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez this summer.
Goal.com understands that City boss Roberto Mancini has sent scouts to watch the former Osasuna man, who can also play at centre-back, a number of times this year as the Italian looks to shore up his squad ahead of next season’s Champions League campaign.
Sir Alex Ferguson is already believed to be keen on the Spain international after he helped Bilbao knock the Red Devils out of the Europa League earlier this month, with Liverpool also eyeing a move for the 23-year-old.
While Martinez’s contract has a buy-out clause of £34m, the Basque club are understood to be open to an offer in the region of £25m despite the player’s current deal not expiring until 2016.
City would be willing to pay the fee, particularly with striker Carlos Tevez still likely to leave Eastlands in the coming transfer window, despite Martinez himself recently suggesting he is not worth such a large sum.
“I do not think there's anyone who wants to pay so much for me,” he told Mundo Deportivo.
“I see it as too much money for me. I do not think I'm worth so much.”
The Spaniard’s ability to play in both midfield and at the back could be a determining factor in Mancini’s pursuit, particularly with the club suffering from defensive shortages earlier in the season, while the loan acquisition of David Pizarro from Roma in January suggests the former Inter boss is still keen to improve his options in the centre of the park.
David Silva has also given his international team-mate a ringing endorsement, with the former Valencia man keen to see his countryman arrive at Eastlands following their World Cup winning exploits in 2010.
However, City face competition not only from their Premier League rivals for Martinez’s signature, but also from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter, who have all been strongly linked with the a move for the player.Follow Andrew Kennedy on