Manuel Pellegrini is free to join Manchester City after Malaga told their manager he can leave at the end of the season.
The former Real Madrid manager is City's number one target to succeed Roberto Mancini and reports emanating from Spain suggest the likelihood of the Chilean switching to the Etihad Stadium this summer has increased.
According to Andalucian paper Diario del Sur, Pellegrini's agent Jesus Martinez claims to have negotiated a deal that will allow the Malaga coach to leave without any new club paying the £3.3m release clause in his contract.
Further reports suggest that information has been confirmed by Malaga and Pellegrini will be free to leave as soon as the Spanish season is over.
While he is expected to go to Manchester City, confirmation of that could take a couple of weeks.
Pellegrini’s awareness that he is top of City’s list – Carlo Ancelotti may feature as a back-up with Chelsea’s Rafael Benitez not in contention – gives him a powerful bargaining hand, knowing that it would be embarrassing for City to miss out on him now.
The anxious wait for confirmation of his arrival will not be helped by possible interest from Barcelona who have asked to be kept informed of developments. The newly crowned La Liga champions are concerned about the health of their current manager Tito Vilanova.