Roberto Mancini has earmarked Brazilian midfielder Paulinho as the man to revive Manchester City's title defence, reports the Daily Mirror and the Italian is now expected to table a £12m bid for the Corinthians star in the January transfer window.
The champions suffered their first defeat of the season against rivals Manchester United at the Etihad, owing to an injury time free-kick from Robin van Persie. Mancini, who was already under pressure from the club's management after their ouster from the group stages of the Champions League for the second successive season, could even face expulsion if City fail to retain their Premier league title.
Paulinho has only eight caps for the Brazil national team and the 24-year-old's lack of international exposure may cause problems for City in procuring a work-permit in the UK but Mancini remains confident. The champions are lacking flair in centre midfield this year, with new signings Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell failing to make an impact in the side. Mancini has been heavily dependent on Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry to marshal his midfield of late, but with the former set to be out on international duty with Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations, the manager is keen on proper back-up, in what is expected to be a crunch time in the title race.
Meanwhile, Toure has moved to calm nerves after City's 2-3 loss to United at the weekend and insisted that the holders are more determined than ever to retain the title. City are currently six points behind United at the top of the table but have 22 more games to breach the gap between them and their bitter rivals.
"The title race is not finished - anything but. We will continue to give United problems in the league and at the end of the season I hope we will win it again. We thought we would win the game when we made it 2-2, but United have great experience and Wayne Rooney was fantastic for them," Toure said.
"Disappointing though this defeat is, it only makes us more determined to win the title. We have to be strong mentally and strong in every other way as well, but our championship challenge is not finished," the former Barcelona star added.