Big-spending Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala have joined the race to sign Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia, according to talkSPORT.

The Moroccan international has flourished in Italy, and is now one of the most highly rated centre-backs in Serie 'A', and is believed to have a number of clubs chasing his signature, including Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Napoli and AC Milan.

But the report claims Anzhi are looking to beat all five clubs to the signing of Benatia. A £12.8m offer is reportedly set to open the bidding for the 25-year-old, but Udinese are in no hurry to sell - the defender is under contract until June 2017.

But the Dagestan-based side have an advantage over their rivals as the Russian transfer window doesn't close until February 24 - giving them two extra weeks to seal a deal.

Benatia joined Udinese from French club Clermont in 2010, and his reputation has steadily grown ever since.

His Italian employers currently sit eighth in Serie 'A', but his performances have attracted the attention of clubs higher up the table - second-placed Napoli are monitoring the centre-back while fifth-placed Milan are also thought to be interested .

Manchester United and Chelsea have also been linked, and could attract Benatia with the offer of Champions League football, while Tottenham are tracking the defender with a view to possibly adding competition to their centre-back ranks.

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