Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed he wants to sign either Mathieu Flamini from AC Milan or Fernando Gago from Real Madrid.
City were strongly linked with a move for Flamini earlier this week, but Milan claimed there had been no contact. Gago, meanwhile, is behind Lassana Diarra in the pecking order at Madrid and is thought to be keen to secure regular first-team football to bolster his chances of playing for Argentina at the World Cup.
City have a number of options in defensive midfield, with Nigel De Jong, Vincent Kompany and new signing Patrick Vieira all capable of playing the role. However, Kompany has been used as a defender in recent matches while Vieira is still struggling with a calf injury, and Mancini is keen to strengthen.
"I need players," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I hope that Vieira is fit (for the Carling Cup tie against Manchester United on Wednesday). Perhaps Real Madrid will give me Gago, maybe Milan (will give me) Flamini..."
Despite City's wealth, it is understood that Mancini has been told he cannot spend money on the duo and a loan arrangement looks the most likely outcome. The former Inter Milan boss believes the owners want him to show his capabilities in the transfer market.
"I think they are putting me to the test," he said. "I won't disappoint them."