Manchester United have joined the race to sign Mehdi Benatia from AS Roma as they look for an replacement for their outgoing defender Nemanja Vidic.

Manchester United are expected to undergo massive changes next summer as David Moyes plans to rebuild his squad and has reportedly been handed over a massive transfer budget. United, who are currently undergoing a transitional period after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, have endured a disappointing season so far, and are expected to add a lot of new faces to their squad next season.

Perhaps the biggest changes are going to be in the defensive half of the squad. Nemanja Vidic has already announced his departure from Old Trafford as reports suggest he is close to signing for Italian side Inter, while his defensive partner Rio Ferdinand is also approaching the fag end of his career. Patrice Evra also has an uncertain future at the club after the gradual degradation in his performances, which means David Moyes is expected to sign at least two new defenders in the summer – a center back and a full back.

Recent reports suggest that Manchester United are closing monitoring Mehdi Benatia’s progress at AS Roma this season and are lining up a move for the defender in the summer. But United will face competition in their pursuit of this highly rated Moroccan international as Juventus, AC Milan, Arsenal and Tottenham have all scouted the 26-year-old following his fantastic performances for the Rome based club this season.

Benatia has been a revelation since joining from Udinese at the start of this season and was a key reason why Roma were leading the points table in the first half of the season. Roma have the best defensive record in the league so far and have conceded only 11 goals in 24 matches as the partnership of Benatia and Leandro Castan has prospered under Rudi Garcia.

Despite joining only last summer, there are already a lot of speculations regarding his future at the club. Roma are gearing up to receive a lot of offers for the French born defender in the summer. It is believed that the Giallorossi are preparing to offer him a new bumper contract, which will eclipse his current contract till 2018. Reports also suggest that Roma are lining up a move for Cagliari defender Davide Astori as a possible replacement for Benatia if he leaves next season.

Roma are unlikely to entertain any offer below 18 million euros for Benatia, although Manchester United will be more than happy to pay that amount for a defender of his quality, competition from other suitors is sure to blow his price out of water.