The Sunday Mirror says n the last month the Toon midfielder has been linked to City's neighbours Manchester United and Chelsea, who are understood to be willing to lodge a bid in excess of £25million.
But City boss Roberto Mancini would love to outmanoeuvre them, and is close to making a shock bid for the 25-year-old Ivory Coast star who is off to the African Cup of Nations.
Mancini is sending scouts out to the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to watch how Tiote plays alongside countryman Yaya Toure, midfield kingpin of table-topping City.
The former Barcelona midfielder, used by Mancini in a more attacking role than he played during three seasons at the Nou Camp, was one of the reasons that Tiote moved to the Premier League in August 2010.
Yaya and elder brother Kolo, along with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba - another Ivorian - convinced the combative Tiote to leave Dutch club FC Twente believing that his raw physicality and ball-winning skills would be a hit in England.