Man City in battle with rivals United to sign defender Pepe

Manchester City are hoping to beat bitter rivals Manchester United in the face to sign Real Madrid defender Pepe, whose future at the Bernabeu is uncertain, ESPN has reported.

The Premier League champions are said to be ahead in the race to sign the Portuguese star, who is looking for guaranteed first-team football for next season. In his eighth season at Real Madrid, he has sometimes found himself as the third-choice centre-back this season behind Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

Manuel Pellegrini – who made an approach for Pepe last season – is unhappy with his defensive options at Man City despite splashing the cash to sign Eliaquim Mangala from FC Porto in the summer, and the Chilean wants a more reliable partner for captain Vincent Kompany. With Pepe’s contract set to expire at the end of next season, Real Madrid could be open to selling him now instead of risking the prospect of losing him for free.

Man Utd are also keen to add a defender to their squad, having struggled at the back for much of the season so far. Pepe has been linked, but Borussia Dortmund and Germany star Mats Hummels is still believed to be top of their wish-list.

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