Ferguson was in France last week to see Rennes in action. He sat alongside Tottenham No.2 Kevin Bond, who was at the game to watch M'Vila as well.
Liverpool's director of football strategy Damien Comolli also flew in to see Marseille win 2-0 - but it appears United are in pole position, having made a discreet inquiry about the player to Rennes' top brass.
And they are hopeful of landing the £20million-rated defensive midfield star, who has already expressed his desire to move to Old Trafford.
Ferguson sees M'Vila as the man to replace Owen Hargreaves, who has struggled with injury and is unlikely to be offered a new contract at United after two serious knee operations.