Manchester United and Chelsea will now face stiff competition from Barcelona if they want to land defender Ezequiel Garay.

According to El Mundo Deportivo, the Camp Nou club are looking for a new centre-back next season and have identified the Benfica star as a possible candidate.

However, Manchester United have long been linked with a bid to take the 26-year-old to old Trafford.

Chelsea have also been credited with an interest in Garay, who signed for the Portuguese club after an unsuccessful spell with Real Madrid, lasting only a season before being loaned out and then sold.

The latest report claims Barcelona see Garay as a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol who has been suffering with serious injury problems and is set to miss the rest of this season after undergoing knee surgery.

Sir Alex Ferguson could be having similar thoughts at Manchester United, which could explain the link with the Argentina international.

Old Trafford captain Nemanja Vidic is another that has numerous injury problems over the past few years, while Rio Ferdinand is in the latter stages of his career at 34.

Chelsea have similar problems with an ageing John Terry, though both clubs have other options within their ranks if they are unsuccessful in their attempts to land the Benfica star.

The report claims Garay will cost the successful club somewhere between €15-20million, although this price could rise if the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United start a bidding war.

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