Chelsea express interest in Manchester United target Mehdi Benatia

Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea are both in for AS Roma’s centre back Mehdi Benatia, according to several reports in the English media.

The powerful centre-back started his career in France with Marseille, but failed to establish himself in the senior side as he was sent out on loan two times. In 2010, he was subsequently transferred to Serie A club Udinese on a free transfer. He made 72 league appearances for the Italian side. Just last summer on 13 July 2013, A.S. Roma signed him from Udinese for €13.5m on a five-year contract and he went on to play an imperative part in Roma’s impressive second-place finish last season.

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal is reportedly a big fan of the 27 year old and is keen on adding the solid defender to his side. The Dutchman was reportedly furious after United lost out on Arsenal centre back Thomas Vermaelen as the Gunners didn’t want to sell the player to a league rival and instead did business with Catalan giants Barcelona. Van Gaal has now turned his attention to the Roma player and wants to quickly secure his services.

The departure of Rio Ferdinand and Nemaja Vidic has left a void in United’s back-line and van Gaal wants to enusre that a solid defender is added to the squad before the season begins. At present, the new United boss only has Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at his disposal

Reports in Italy claim that Van Gaal is preparing an eye-catching £30million bid to secure Benatia’s services, but it seems that the former Barcelona chief could miss out on the Roma player after it was revealed that Jose Mourinho had his eye set on the Morocco international.

The Moroccan international had seemed to be on his way out of Roma earlier this summer amid a contract dispute but moves to either Manchester City or Manchester United failed to materialise.

Chelsea sold David Luiz to Paris St-Germain and while it may have been excellent business from the London side, the club wants to add an experienced centre-back to the side and Mourinho belives that Benatia is the correct man for the job.

Chelsea have previously been linked with Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala, especially after the defender revealed he would prefer to move to London, but at present, his move to Manchester City seems imminent. Chelsea, who have successfully hijacked numerous bids which include Mohamed Salah and Willian, are ready to rival Van Gaal with a £30million bid of their own for Benatia’s signature.