Manchester United face Barcelona battle for £42m star

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Premier League duo Manchester United and Chelsea face stiff competition for the signing of Eliaquim Mangala, with reports suggesting that Barcelona are targeting a move for the French international.

22-year-old Mangala joined current employers FC Porto from Belgian outfit Standard Liege during the summer of 2011 and has been attracting attention from across Europe of late due to a number of admirably consistent performances in the heart of defence at Estadio do Dragao.

A host of European heavyweights have already been linked with his signature, including United, Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City and free-spending Ligue 1 side Monaco.

However, it now appears as if those clubs will receive significant opposition in the shape of defending La Liga champions Barcelona.

According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, Gerardo Martino's Catalan giants are on the search for a new centre-back and have drawn up a potential shortlist - also said to contain the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Mats Hummels and River Plate's Eder Alvarez Balanta - headed by Mangala.

If any of that aforementioned quartet do hope to sign Mangala, however, they will likely have to pay an exorbitant fee with the talented young defender's current contract in Portugal believed to contain a release clause of a whopping £42 million.

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