Pepe and Mario Balotelli
Pepe's contract at Real Madrid is due to expire in summer 2016 Getty

Real Madrid centre-back Pepe has snubbed Manchester United's approach for him to move to Old Trafford during the January transfer window even though according to reports in Spain he was Louis van Gaal's first choice to bolster the defence.

The Portuguese international fell out of favour at the Spanish giants during Jose Mourinho's tenure in La Liga ahead of youngster Raphael Varane. However he has regained his leading role under Carlo Ancelotti, being a crucial asset during the impressive last season which ended with both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey titles.

Nevertheless, with the defender set to turn 32 next month and with his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu due to expire in summer 2016, there are some concerns about his future with Real Madrid.

Marca has revealed both Manchester United and City have recently tried to take advantage of the uncertain situation to secure his services during the January transfer window.

The Spanish newspaper claims van Gaal had earmarked him as his top target to bolster the back-line - ahead of other targets like Mats Hummels or Diego Godin - and finally fill the void left by the summer departures of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

According to the report, "United have twice made enquiries to Jorge Mendes about Pepe's situation" in recent times and on both occasions the defender's agent ruled out any possibility of even laying the groundwork for a potential deal.

Meanwhile, City boss Manuel Pellegrini is also monitoring the situation as he knows Pepe well from their time together in La Liga, having already made an enquiry to secure his signature before eventually signing Eliaquim Mangala from Porto last summer.

But should the reports from Spain be true the Premier League giants will have to look elsewhere to find a defender as Real Madrid and Pepe are unlikely to part ways during the January transfer window.

Despite some Real Madrid officials reportedly having doubts over whether it is worth extending Pepe's contract due to his age, they want to wait until the summer to make a final decision over his future.