By Greg Stobart
AC Milan have stolen a march on their city rivals Inter in the race to sign £8 million-rated Nigel de Jong from Manchester City.
Goal.com understands that talks over a move are at an advanced stage with the Dutchman, who is refusing to sign a new deal with the Premier League champions.
The Netherlands international is surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium and has been targeted by Inter as they look to bolster their midfield options, after a disappointing sixth-placed finish in Serie A last season.
However, AC Milan are the new favourites to secure the 27-year-old's signature before the transfer window closes in nine days' time.
De Jong, who joined City from Hamburg for £18m in January 2009, has only one year remaining on his contract in Manchester and is keen to move on after losing his starting place to Gareth Barry last term, while the signing of Jack Rodwell from Everton last month is likely to lessen his first-team opportunities.
Roberto Mancini has been keen to strengthen his central midfield during this transfer window but missed out on long-term target Daniel De Rossi after the Roma man rejected City's advances, as was exclusively revealed by Goal.com on Monday.
City's failure to secure De Rossi's signature will have no impact on De Jong's future at the club however, with Mancini ready to cash in on the Netherlands international regardless.
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