Rooney scores against Manchester City from an overhead kick in last season's derby at Old Trafford

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini admits he would love to have Wayne Rooney in his team and hailed the Red Devils striker as a champion.

Rooney has been in sublime form so far this season netting 26 goals in 31 league appearances and Mancini has expressed his admiration for the rivals' talisman, ahead of Monday's Manchester derby at the Etihad, tipped to be the title-decider.

The 26 year old came close to leaving United a couple of years ago, after submitting a written transfer request. City were reportedly leading the line for his signature. However, the striker took a U-turn and committed his future to the club. He is now fourth in the club's list of all time goal scorers.

"Rooney. He's a champion," Mancini said emphatically, when asked who he would like to sign from his rivals, according The former Everton man featured on a list that included United legend Ryan Giggs.

"I'd take Ryan Giggs as well if he could play for five or six more years," Mancini added.

Meanwhile, City captain Vincent Kompany also praised Rooney and added he was relishing the prospect of keeping the influential striker quiet on Monday night.

"He is one of the best strikers in the world, no doubt about that, and usually it's a very strong game. I enjoy that in a game. It's not just about the two of us, but it's nice to play top players. He has all the qualities of the top strikers - he is quick, powerful and is a goalscorer. He is also a leader for his team and that makes him a special player," the Sun quoted the Belgian as saying.

"That makes it so much more enjoyable for me. I don't think things should come easy - if it's difficult, that makes winning even better. It's great to play against him. We have played each other so many times. I like it and hopefully we will be playing against each other for a long time because it's always a great battle," he added.

City are currently three points behind United in the league table with just two games left to play after the derby.