Manchester United are ready to rival Manchester City's attempt to sign Jean Michaél Seri from Nice, with Jose Mourinho keen to go head to head with Pep Guardiola once again to sign the Ivory Coast midfielder at the end of the season.
Seri came close to joining Barcelona last summer, only for the deal to collapse when the Spanish side withdrew their bid at the last minute. The 26-year-old was understood to have been devastated and has struggled for form in Ligue 1 this season after being awarded the Marc-Vivien Foe trophy for the best African player in France.
But with Guardiola searching for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho in central midfield and Yaya Toure likely to leave the Etihad Stadium this summer, City have been in initial contact this week with Seri's representatives to discuss a potential move. Nice are expected to ask for a fee in the region of £35 million – the same amount offered by Barca in August – although their bargaining position is weakened by the fact that Seri has less than 18 months remaining on his contract.
City are expected to face competition from several other clubs, with scouts from United having watched Seri in Nice's 2-2 draw against Monaco last week as he provided the assist for Mario Balotelli's second goal. Officials are already believed to have made contact with the French club to sound them out, while Chelsea, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked in recent weeks.
With Alexis Sanchez close to moving to Old Trafford having at first seemed set for City, any United move for Seri would not be well received by Guardiola but it is understood that the former Barcelona manager is a big admirer of the former Pacos de Ferreira player and has made him a priority for the summer. Borussia Dortmund's Julian Weigl is an alternative option, yet the German side are unwilling to sell the 22-year-old, who is also coveted by most of Europe's top clubs. – Guardian service