By Paul Clennam
Manchester City have joined rivals United in the race to land Sporting Lisbon starlet William Carvalho.
City have scouted the powerful 21-year-old defensive midfielder on several occasions in the last month and are aware of United having registered official interest in the player.
It is City’s understanding that the Portugal international has no firm preference in terms of his next club but is keen to move to a side playing Champions League football next season.
Manuel Pellegrini is a keen admirer of Carvalho, who made his full international debut in last year’s World Cup play-off against Sweden, while City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain has been told the player would be available for a fee of €38 million.
The player himself has admitted to being flattered by the interest of United, who Goal understands will have around £180m to spend on squad reinforcements in the summer.
Speaking after Sporting’s 2-1 win over Braga earlier this month, Carvalho said: “It’s nice being praised and to know there are some big clubs interested in me.
“[My future could be with] Manchester United or Real Madrid. It’s just nice to have a great European club after me, but at the moment I’m just totally focused on Sporting and doing my best until the end of the season. At the end of the campaign, we will see what happens.”
City are focusing much of their transfer activity on Portuguese-based talent and maintain an interest in Porto pair Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando.
Although currently well stocked for midfield options, City are expected to lose Gareth Barry at the end of the season, who could make his move to Everton a permanent one, while Jack Rodwell is also likely to be made available.