• Chelsea, Paris Saint-German and Real Madrid also on radar
• Frenchman loves ‘spectacular’ Premier League
Eliaquim Mangala, Manchester City’s No1 summer transfer target, would prefer a move to Manchester United, though Louis van Gaal is not prioritising the Porto central defender because of reservations over his temperament.
The Holland coach, who will take charge when their World Cup campaign ends, is an admirer of Mangala but is unsure if the 23-year-old has yet to fully mature.
While Van Gaal needs to replace the departed centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as he seeks to rebuild his United squad this summer, the France defender is not among his prime choices, with the 62-year-old instead targeting Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels.
Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, does not have any doubts and is keen to bring Mangala, who would cost around £35m, to the Etihad Stadium to partner Vincent Kompany next season though the champions, having previously been confident of signing Mangala, are now conscious it could be difficult.
The Frenchman, who is part of Didier Deschamps’ squad at the World Cup, would rather play for United – or Chelsea, as he has previously stated – with Mangala having told friends he believes each club is of a greater status to City.
While Mangala also recently expressed his admiration of Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid – he spoke of his liking for Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos, who play for the French and Spanish club respectively – of the choice between City and Chelsea, Mangala previously said: “City or Chelsea? Chelsea because it is London. It is true that I love the Premier League because it is a spectacular championship. In January, there were discussions with City, but it fell through because the two clubs could not reach an agreement. Every player wants to play in the biggest clubs. I am an ambitious player and the team that can help me win titles is the one that interests me.
Mangala is minded to wait until after the World Cup to decide his future as he is hopeful a successful showing in Brazil will enhance his options, and increase potential earnings with any suitors.
Mangala’s stance has led City to identify Roma’s Mehdi Benatia, a 27-year-old Morocco centre-back who would cost in the region of £20m, as the fall-back option.
Mangala previously played for Standard Liège from 2008-11 until moving to Porto and has two France caps, having made his debut last year. He has won the Belgian title and two Portuguese championships.