The newspaper claims the club has mapped out their strategy for the next three transfer windows with the priorities set are for a central defender, defensive midfielder and striker.
While Alexis Sanchez, 28, of Arsenal is their number one target for the latter, strengthening the defensive area of his squad is a higher priority for Pep Guardiola.
Injuries to Vincent Kompany and John Stones persuaded the Spaniard that he needs to focus on depth at the back than worrying about his free-scoring forward line.
Van Dijk, 26, is the main central defensive target, preferred to Jonny Evans, 29, of West Bromwich Albion and Inigo Martinez, 26, of Real Sociedad. Bookmakers have City as joint-favourites with Liverpool at 6/4 to land the Netherlands international.
Guardiola is also concerned about his squad harmony and the case for signing Sanchez this winter weakened this week with reports that the Arsenal dressing room was unsettled by the Chilean’s attitude.
However, Van Dijk was equally disruptive last summer while trying to force a move to Liverpool. The Saints held strong in the face of an unrelenting media onslaught and the Dutchman stayed at St Mary’s.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte urged other clubs to bid for Van Dijk to stop Manchester City hoarding the top flight’s best players or face the prospect of losing the title to the Etihad on a regular basis.