Real Madrid are ready to launch a summer bid for Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel - a long term Manchester United target - reports talkSPORT.

The 23-year-old Belgian international only arrived in Portugal from Standard Liege last July, but having turned in a series of impressive performances in the Champions League this season, he's alerted the attention of a number of top clubs.

Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson is a long-term admirer of Witsel's, and even had Manchester United scouts track his progress during his time at Liege, with a view to a future move to Old Trafford.

However, the reigning Premier League champions will now face a fight for the combative midfielder's signature, after Jose Mourinho entered the frame.

The Portuguese coach is set to stay at Santiago Bernabeu having just won the La Liga title with Real, and as such will be heavily backed in the transfer market, in a bid to keep Madrid as Spain's number one side next season.

A proposed offer of £15million will tempt Benfica's resolve to retain Witsel's services, and could spark a summer bidding war between Real and Manchester United.

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