Manchester United and Chelsea face strong competition from Real Madrid in the race to sign Edinson Cavani, if reports are to be believed.

Italian publication Tuttosport claims 'high-ranking' Real Madrid officials were in Villarreal last night to watch the 24-year-old in action for Napoli in the Champions League, and would have been subsequently impressed with his performance in the 2-0 win.

With the speculation going on to suggest that a contract in the region of €5 million-a-year is being prepared, English clubs will face strong competition if they wish to persuade the Uruguayan international to move to the Barclays Premier League over Spain.

Only yesterday Cavani admitted that a move to English football was an attractive option, alerting suitors like Chelsea over a possible move.

The Blues boss is reported to have identified the player as a potential long-term successor to Ivorian hitman Didier Drogba, who told the official Chelsea website yesterday that he hopes to spend two more years at the club.

With only a one-year deal on the table at Stamford Bridge, his future at Chelsea remains in doubt however, and Cavani could still be the man to take the former Porto boss' fancy in west London.

"I like English football a lot. There are teams there that are very dynamic and strong," said the striker.

Cavani was first linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer, with agent Claudio Anelucci rejecting speculation that Old Trafford was on the radar at the end of June.

"This is the time of year when it is normal to hear talk of transfers to big clubs for astronomical fees. The majority of the time there is nothing to them, as is the case with regards to a possible move to Manchester United for Edinson."

The link with the Red Devils has refused to go away though, with Sir Alex Ferguson thought to be keen on adding to his attacking line as the futures of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen remains in-doubt at the club.

Whilst the €50 million figure could be a potential stumbling block, Manchester United are thought to have funds at their disposal should the Scot wish to spend big in 2012.

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