Premier League duo Manchester United and Manchester City have received a major boost in the race to sign Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez, according to the Daily Mail.
La Liga giants Barcelona were said to be interested in signing Martinez to replace the outgoing Carles Puyol, however their hopes of landing the 22-year-old have hit a brick wall due to their transfer ban.
Barcelona's suspension from signing players during the course of the next two transfer windows is expected to free the way for Manchester United and Manchester City to battle it out to sign the highly-rated Spaniard.
Martinez's performances for Real Sociedad have led to both Manchester clubs stepping up their interest in the centre-back.
Both Manchester clubs will be in the market for a new centre-back in the summer as David Moyes needs to sign a replacement for Inter Milan-bound Nemanja Vidic.
Manuel Pellegrini is also looking to bolster his defensive options as Martin Demichelis has failed to solidify his place next to Vincent Kompany.
Pellegrini knows all about Martinez due to his time in La Liga with Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga.