Manchester United chiefs believe incoming caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick can help in negotiations with Erling Haaland.
The Sun says City were in pole position as Haaland's dad Alfie played there and Real have made a move.
But new United interim boss Rangnick oversaw Haaland's move from Molde to Salzburg two years ago when he was director of football for the Austrian side.
United believe that link will enable them to sign Europe's hottest property next summer when he has a £64million release clause.
Haaland's move to Salzburg rocketed the now 21-year-old into the limelight and Dortmund snapped him up a year later.
United had hoped former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be a key factor in any deal, having given him his first big break at Molde.
But the arrival of Rangnick could be even more decisive — especially with Solskjaer also sure to sing the praises of a move to Old Trafford.
Need a VPN? Or seeking to switch? Then support Tribal Football by clicking here to sign up with our official partners NordVPN. Not only will you receive the best VPN experience, but also great discounts by signing up via Tribal Football. Thanks for your support!