Manchester City restored a six-point lead at the Premier League summit on Sunday with victory over Manchester United, which keeps Pep Guardiola’s side on course to retain their title.

But whatever happens in the final months of the season, City intend to strengthen their squad this summer and — as detailed by The Athletic in early January — Erling Haaland is the primary target.

Given his spectacular goalscoring record and the existence of a well-documented €75 million release clause that actives in the upcoming transfer window, the 21-year-old Borussia Dortmund and Norway international striker is of serious interest to a host of the continent’s biggest clubs.

Although finances are a key factor, Haaland’s destination will be determined by personal choice and it is understood that the leading contenders expect to learn his decision in the next few weeks.

It means that after months of speculation, clarity about where one of the world’s most sought-after players will play from the 2022-23 campaign should emerge soon.

Multiple sources believe that despite conversations taking place with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, it is developing into a straight contest between two suitors: Real Madrid and City.

Real want to recruit Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, whose Paris Saint-Germain contract is scheduled to expire at the end of June, but it remains unclear what Mbappe will choose to do. The Spaniards are believed to favour taking Mbappe now and for Haaland to spend 12 more months at Dortmund before arriving in 2023, when Karim Benzema’s deal at the Bernabeu is due to finish.

But if the opportunity to acquire Haaland is only available in the immediate term, Real will likely not want to let it slip, especially with City prepared to proceed without hesitation.