Barcelona are reportedly ready to contest Manchester United for the signature of Roma defender Marquinhos in the summer transfer window, and the Catalan club are preparing a bid for the young Brazilian.

According to talkSPORT, Barcelona are considering an offer in the region of £18 million for Marquinhos, and are set to make an early move for the centre-back in the hope of keeping him from the clutches of Manchester United.

The 18-year-old has flourished during his maiden season in European football, having joined Roma from Corinthians last summer, and has impressed in his 12 league appearances for the Italian capital club this term.

His performances appear to have alerted Barcelona and Manchester United, as Tito Vilanova and Sir Alex Ferguson strive to reinforce their respective squads before the transfer deadline in August.

Barcelona are reported to have identified the acquisition of a centre-back as a summer priority given the advanced years of Carles Puyol and the well-documented health problems of the recently returned Eric Abidal.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have also been linked with the recruitment of another central defender to join the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans at Old Trafford in time for next season.

Along with Marquinhos, Manchester City's Joleon Lescott has been mentioned as a potential shock signing for the Premier League champions.

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