Premier League - Paper Round: Barcelona to steal Pellegrini from City?

Tuesday's headlines are almost unanimous: Manuel Pellegrini will be Manchester City's next manager. Almost unanimous, but not quite, as Barcelona could nip in to secure the Chilean's services.

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Manuel Pellegrini

Despite most of Tuesday's headlines proclaiming that Pellegrini's move to City is a done deal, several reports claim there is major doubt as to whether they will be able to bring in the Malaga boss, who is a 2-9 and shortening favourite with bookies to get the gig.

Pellegrini not landing at the Etihad Stadium would be a minor disaster for Fleet Street given how many hours they've invested in dredging up information about him.

The Daily Mirror has gone to town with their "in-depth profile of the man who is set to be City boss".

Yet their feature, rather amusingly, sits on their website right next to Pellegrini's denial that he is coming to England: "Manuel 'categorically' denies that he will be new Manchester City manager'."

Now as much as Pellegrini would probably like to come to a club that's in the business of buying talent rather than flogging it off - as cash-strapped Malaga have been doing for some time - he won't be making any hasty decisions just yet, because two other huge job offers are coming his way.

The Times reports that Napoli and Barcelona are both keen on the 59-year-old, with Barca increasingly likely to need a new boss due to the tragic health worries of their current coach.

Barcelona want to be informed of anything happening with Pellegrini, "because of continuing uncertainty over Tito Vilanova’s ability to continue as coach in light of his battle with cancer," the paper reports.

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The Daily Mail also carries the Barcelona story, suggesting that Pellegrini has "verbally agreed" to take over at City - but suggesting that he would go back on his word in a heartbeat if it meant getting to have Lionel Messi in his XI every week.

A Pellegrini U-turn on the City job really would put the cat among the pigeons, not least because Pellegrini would become only the third man to have managed both Real Madrid and Barcelona (the others are Radomir Antic and Enrique Fernandez, fact fans). It would also throw open the job at the Etihad to all-comers - and Jose Mourinho, already second favourite at 7-1, could recover from his snub by Manchester United in fine style by taking over their arch-rivals and burying them in titles over the next few years.

It all makes for great fun, and the papers are having a field day: with Ferguson retiring last week and Mancini leaving this week, they are clearly loving every second of it.

"Roberto Mancini was ruthlessly axed by Manchester City late last night — a year to the day after winning the title," the Sun reports, adding along with that nice detail that Mancini's fate was actually sealed at a board meeting several hours before the ill-fated FA Cup final.

Had news leaked out? Did Mancini intentionally torpedo City's hopes at Wembley? If the paper harbours any such suspicions they keep them to themselves.

The Daily Star has a different take on that poor performance, claiming that it was the players who forced City chiefs to axe Mancini, with their mole at the Etihad saying, "make no mistake, they don't want him here," and claiming that the champagne was on ice as they waited for the axe to fall.

Still, anyone feeling sorry for Mancini shouldn't be too worried: it seems that the Italian will be deluged with job offers following his stint in Manchester.

The Daily Express and The Sun claim that Monaco will swoop for the Cup and League winner: "His fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri has guided Monaco back to the top flight of French football this season, but the owners of the Principality club believe Mancini is the man to take them forward."

The Times claims that job offers could be on their way from Italy and France as well, with Napoli - assuming they don't land Pellegrini - and PSG both said to be interested.

And finally, the day's transfer news: the Daily Mail reports that Borussia Dortmund want Aston Villa's Christian Benteke as the replacement for probably-outgoing Robert Lewandowski, the Standard claims Manchester United will pay Barcelona £20 million for Cesc Fabregas, and the Daily Express claims that Wayne Rooney is to hold peace talks at Old Trafford which will keep him at Manchester United next season after all.

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