By Paul Clennam
Manchester City have launched a stunning last-ditch £38 million bid to sign Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala, Goal understands.
The France international has long been a target of City, with their interest dating as far back as Roberto Mancini’s reign as manager.
Current boss Manuel Pellegrini first scouted the 22-year-old last summer and even failed with a late £30m enquiry on the back of Mangala’s breakthrough season of 2012-13, when he made 36 appearances and kept 25 clean sheets in all competitions.
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And the Chilean has given the green light to City launching an ambitious big-money move for the player this week after being given encouragement that Porto could be willing to sell.
Much, though, could hang on Otamendi’s future, with Porto thought to be more keen to allow the £20m-rated Argentine to depart before Mangala, for whom the Portuguese giants hope to encourage a bidding war in the summer with Chelsea and Manchester United having also shown interest.
Still, City are hopeful a £38m offer – though short of Porto’s £45m asking price – could force through a move that would provide a huge fillip to Manchester City as they prepare for a tough second half of the season.
Pellegrini’s men currently sit second in the Premier League table, two points behind Arsenal with a game in hand and a point above Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – and the manager is convinced that strengthening his defence could be key as they look to regain the title.