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Real keen on United target

Nicolas-OtamendiReal Madrid have stolen a gear on Manchester United in the race to sign Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi, according to reports in Spain.

Valencia’s newspaper SuperDeporte claims that Real Madrid’s interest in the Argentine defender is “very serious” and that Rafa Benitez has identified the 27-year-old as the ideal candidate to bolster his defensive options, particularly should Sergio Ramos leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.

United have reportedly told Real Madrid that they want Ramos included any deal for David De Gea, while reports on Monday indicated that Louis Van Gaal might have to pay up to £46.5m for the 29-year-old, whose contract with Real Madrid expires in 2017.

However, United’s interest in Ramos might see them lose on Otamendi, who was considered Van Gaal’s main target after Mats Hummels, original the number one choice to strengthen United’s back four, committed his future to Borussia Dortmund in the wake of Jurgen Klopp’s departure from the club.

Otamendi, who is currently on Copa America duty with Argentina, has had an outstanding season at Valencia but is understood to have his sights set on a move away from the Mestalla this summer and some have suggested that Marcos Rojo and Angel Di Maria are trying to convince their Argentina teammate to join them at Old Trafford.

SuperDeporte added that United offered €35m for Otamendi in January but will have to trigger the player’s release clause as Valencia are unlikely agree to any other sort of deal, particularly as Real’s interest could drive the price higher.

United run the risk of ending up empty handed if Otamendi moves to Real Madrid and Ramos ends up staying at the Bernabeu, with journalist suggesting the Spain international might simply be using United to earn himself a better deal in the Spanish capital.