Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Pep Guardiola ‘greatly admires’ Prem star as Man Utd ready up for bidding war with Man City

Jarrod Bowen West Ham

Pep Guardiola ‘greatly admires’ a Premier League star, according to a report, leading Manchester United to gear up for a bidding war with Manchester City.

Guardiola’s men are in a strong position to win the Premier League title for the fourth time in five seasons. They have a nine-point lead on second-placed Liverpool and are 10 points ahead of Chelsea, who sit third.

Liverpool do have a game in hand on City, which means they could cut the gap down to six points, although the reigning champions will be tough to stop.

They have gone on a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions since losing to RB Leipzig in the Champions League on December 7.

City have scored an impressive 27 goals in that time, while also conceding just six.

Despite their dominance, Guardiola is keen to improve his squad. According to several sources, City are closing in on the capture of River Plate striker Julian Alvarez.

But he is not the only United transfer target on their radar. According to Sports Illustrated, who cite West Ham outlet Claret and Hugh, Guardiola has spoken highly about midfielder Declan Rice to City officials.

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He ‘greatly admires’ the England enforcer, who is having another exceptional campaign under David Moyes.

United are aware of the noise being created at the Etihad and now worry they will have to enter a bidding war for Rice’s services.

The 23-year-old is valued at more than £100million by West Ham, as they attempt to ward off elite clubs. But this price is within City’s reach, as shown by their £100m move for Jack Grealish.

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The Red Devils, meanwhile, are yet to break that barrier, although they did spend £89m on French ace Paul Pogba.

City already have a strong midfield which includes Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, among others. But clearly Rice has been impressing Guardiola with his all-action displays this term and could link up with City in the near future.

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Another midfielder Guardiola is reportedly aiming to sign is Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.

And City have been given a boost after rumoured suitors Bayern ruled themselves out of the transfer race.

When asked about a potential bid for de Jong, Bayern President Herbert Hainer said: “We have a very, very strong team – and I don’t see any reason why we should still do something in winter.”

de Jong would not come cheap as Barca spent £65m to land him from Ajax three years ago.

But City have proven many times that they are willing to go big for the best talent in the world.

As with Rice though, competition emerges from the Premier League. Chelsea are also keeping tabs on de Jong, suggesting they could come in with a bid during the summer.

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