Chelsea battle Manchester United for Ajax defender

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Chelsea are interested in landing Ajax defender Joel Veltman - but will have to fight off competition from Manchester United who view him as the long-term solution to their defensive problems, according to the Daily Mail.

The 22-year-old has played 14 first-team games for Ajax this season, and is quickly emerging as the man to fill the gap left behind by Toby Alderweireld, who left to join Atletico Madrid in the the summer.

Scouts from Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Manchester City and Arsenal, were present to watch Veltman in action during Ajax's 1-1 draw with PEC Zwolle on Sunday.

According to the Mail this isn't the only time that Chelsea have watched the defender in action, but they will have to ward off interest from Manchester United, who have their own problems at the back, if they want to land their man.

Nemanja Vidic has already announced that he will be leaving Old Trafford at the end of the season, while reports today suggest Rio Ferdinand could well follow him out of the door.

The Mail claim that Veltman is being considered as a long-term replacement for either one of the two veterans, despite the fact that David Moyes can already call upon the likes of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

The paper adds that Red Devils boss David Moyes would prefer to recruit a defender with more experience, but is willing to take a risk on the youngster because of his obvious talent.

Veltman's Ajax team-mate Stefano Denswil is also said to be on Manchester United's radar.

Chelsea have their own problems at the back, with John Terry out of contract at the end of the season and David Luiz being more regularly deployed in a midfield role.

Branislav Ivanovic has also been used as a centre-back during his time at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is likely to bring in a specialist in the position should Terry depart.

Despite interest from the Premier League's biggest clubs, Ajax director of football Marc Overmars is adamant that Veltman is going nowhere.

The Dutchman is quoted in the Daily Mirror as saying: “I will fight to keep Veltman. We don’t want him to go. He is a massive talent and players have been leaving this club too early in their careers.

“Veltman is a sensation. We never expected him to make such an amazing breakthrough at top level. But that’s down to the work of Jaap Stam.

“Joel gets defensive lessons from the biggest of all defenders. Jaap has been working on him really hard with individual coaching at Ajax.’’

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