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Manchester transfer tussle: City and United targeting Jose Gimenez

Manchester City, 11/4 to win the Premier League, have apparently had a bid of around £17m rejected for Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez, with the Spanish side determined to hold on to one of their prize assets.

The Sky Blues are not ones to give up lightly, but could face fresh competition from fierce cross-town rivals Manchester United, who are also said to be shopping for a centre back in January.

With the Red Devils in hot pursuit of second-place City in the Premier League, the winter window could become a crucial turning point for both teams, who have struggled with backline wobbles.

Now highly-rated 19-year-old Uruguay centre half Gimenez could become central to the northwest rivals’ power struggle.

Defending La Liga champions Atleti don’t appear to be in a selling mood, after losing their unbeaten home record to Villarreal last time out and falling further behind in the title race.

City will certainly have to delve deeper into the Etihad coffers if they are to land the highly-rated youngster.

There is no escaping the fact that Manuel Pellegrini’s rearguard needs serious attention, with influential skipper Vincent Kompany sidelined yet again and Martin Demichelis set to enjoy his 34th birthday before the transfer window reopens.

Former Sky Blues boss Roberto Mancini is said to be eyeing a move for out-of-favour Matija Nastasic and summer buy Eliaquim Mangala has so far failed to impress, leaving the Sky Blues short of depth.

An upcoming Champions League clash with Barcelona has made a backline boost of increasing importance for Pellegrini, but Atletico are also aiming for an extended run in the competition.

Gimenez’s stock is high at the moment, with the teenager stepping into sidelined Juan Miranda’s shoes with aplomb, contributing calm and commanding performances.

With 10 Atleti appearances and one goal under his belt, the future seems bright for the 14-capped Uruguay defender, who can also operate as a right back.

The promising centre half has also slotted into La Albiceleste with ease, taking over the mantle from former skipper and West Bromwich Albion man Diego Lugano, who retired from international football after the World Cup.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has paired Gimenez with Atletico clubmate Diego Godin, who has been the target of transfer speculation himself, at the heart of defence.

Diego Simeone will be keen to keep the exciting La Albiceleste partnership intact at club level, but City, 14/1 to win the Champions League, could yet steal in to spoil his plans.