Manchester United are lining up a move for Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi according to reports in Spain.
Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal is likely to be in the market for a new centre-back in the summer transfer window, with Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels suggested as his top target.
However Spanish newspaper AS claim that Otamendi has emerged as an alternative target. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a fine first campaign with Valencia so far, starting all but three of their league games to help Los Che into fourth place.
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The paper adds that Manchester United tried to make a move for the Argentinian international in the January transfer window but were unsuccessful and are now considering another swoop. The move may rely on how difficult it is to lure Hummels from Dortmund in the summer.
The Red Devils' task was made all the easier by the fact that Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp has announced his decision to step down from his role at the end of the season. Team-mate Ilkay Gundogan has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
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Speaking at a press conference earlier this week Otamendi refused to discuss his future, however Valencia's general manager Francisco Rufete insisted that the former Porto star is going nowhere.
"Nobody has said that Otamendi wants to go, and this is not what he said either," he said. "We have to make good decisions but the important thing is the player, and there is no situation where Nico said something different from 'I want to be here'."
It is likely to be very difficult for Manchester United to get the deal done given that Otamendi still has four years remaining on the contract he signed in 2014.
Valencia will feel more confident in their ability to keep hold of the defender if the secure qualification for the Champions League. They're three points clear of rivals Sevilla with just two games still to go - although there is some doubt over whether the season will finish at all as things stand after the league announced it decision to suspend indefinitely all domestic competition from 16 May over a spat with the government over television rights.
Those in the know rate Otamendi very highly indeed - and those holding out for Mats Hummels shouldn't be too disappointed if the German stays put and the Valencia man arrives instead.
However it is hard to escape the feeling that the deal is going to be almost impossible to get done - Otamendi has only been with Valencia at a year and has four years to go on his contract. That plus the positive performances at the Mestella this season which could end up in Champions League qualification means he is likely to stay put.
Manchester United fans - who is the better defender, Mats Hummels or Nicolas Otamendi?
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