The Sunday Mirror says Ferguson has begun sounding out Wanderers about the possibility of taking the Frenchman to Old Trafford in the New Year, but has been quoted a price of £12m.
Ferguson will not budge on his valuation of a player he has coveted since he first began tormenting United as a teenager at Arsenal.
Anelka celebrated his 28th birthday last March and United will not pay over the odds for a player they believe will have little sell-on value in a couple of years' time.
It means the much travelled hitman could soon regret agreeing to sign a new four-year contract with Bolton last summer.
The deal netted him a £15,000-a-week pay rise, but in return Bolton were able to remove the get-out clause which was inserted into the contract he signed when he arrived from Fenerbahce in the summer of 2006.
Manchester City and Chelsea are also monitoring Anelka's situation, but Anelka is aware of United's renewed interest in him and believes Old Trafford would be the perfect place to realise his full potential.