Manchester United must react in chase for target Eliaquim Mangala

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Manchester United may be forced to react in the chase for Eliaquim Mangala after it was revealed that rivals Manchester City had stepped up their interest in him. Chelsea are another team credited with an interest in a player priced at £36million and the stepping up of the chase the Etihad Stadium will be a worry.

Mangala is currently away with the France squad in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup so any deal is unlikely to materialise before Les Bleus' interest in the tournament has finished. However, the Daily Mail claim that Manuel Pellegrini is determined to sign his number one centre-back target and the Citizens are ready to make a decisive move.

Transfer scramble ahead?

Manchester City have already completed the signing of Mangala's Porto teammate Fernando, so will be hoping amicable negotiations surrounding the deal for the Brazilian midfielder can be continued for the defender. Mangala has been making quite a name for himself the past few seasons in Portugal and may feel the time is ripe for a lucrative transfer.

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The report claims City are also interested in another Chelsea target, Mehdi Benatia, but the AS Roma centre-back has made it clear he would rather move to Stamford Bridge than the Etihad Stadium. Chelsea's interest in the Moroccan is a sign that Jose Mourinho is preparing for the departure of one of his defenders in the near future.

Stamford Bridge cover up

The Blues were uncharacteristically leaky in defence last season, for a Mourinho side anyway, and you expect the Portuguese tactician to rectify that in the coming campaign. That they are interested in Mangala and Benatia would suggest Chelsea are gearing up for some changes in their defensive ranks over the next couple of seasons, especially as they have youngsters like Kurt Zouma and Kenneth Omeruo out on loan.

John Terry was back to something like his best last season and was probably in the top five performing centre-backs in the Premier League. The Chelsea skipper is in form but is 33 years old and approaching the twilight of his top level career, so a changing of the guard is going to happen over the next two or three seasons.

Van Gaal needs recruits

Meanwhile, Manchester United are facing a shortage of bodies in the centre-back area after both Rio Ferdinand and Nemnja Vidic left this summer. Vidic is joining the Serie A side Inter Milan and Ferdinand is yet to decide on a new club, but both leaving on free transfers means a huge amount of experience is lost.

Mangala may not be very experienced at only 23 but he is already performing at a very high level under the pressure that comes with playing for one of Portugal's leading sides. There is also the fact that none of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans have covered themselves in glory when deployed at the heart of the defence in recent seasons.

Expensive fight

All three clubs have considerable spending power and Porto are refusing to accept anything less than £36million for him, so it could get messy this summer. All three of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City need someone in the mould of Mangala, but the Etihad is where the biggest pile of cash lies and any bidding war is likely to go their way.

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