Manchester United are reportedly leading the race ahead of Liverpool to sign Atletico Madrid centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez. Spanish publication AS suggests that the Uruguay international is frustrated over his lack of playing time under Diego Simeone and could consider a move away from the Vicente Calderon in the coming summer transfer window.

Gimenez joined Atletico Madrid from Danubio in 2013 as a prospect for the future. The 22-year-old enjoyed an impressive start to the life in La Liga and quickly garnered a reputation as one of the most promising centre-backs around the world.

Even Barcelona and Real Madrid were said to be interested in his services a year ago while last summer Arsenal were also linked with the Uruguay international before opting instead to sign Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia.

Gimenez looked destined to become the long-term replacement for his compatriot Diego Godin at Atletico Madrid. However, the defender has seen his development hampered by the arrival of Stefan Savic and the irruption of academy starlet Lucas Hernandez.

Jose Maria Gimenez
Jose Maria Gimenez has made 19 appearances for Atletico Madrid this season Getty

The Uruguay international has only started seven La Liga games this campaign, having been also hit by a number of fitness problems.

AS claims that both Manchester United and Liverpool are ready to take advantage of the situation to lure him to the Premier League ahead of next season.

The Spanish publication understands that Jose Mourinho's side are currently in the pole position as the Red Devils have been in regular contact with Gimenez's camp lately in order to have the situation under control. Nevertheless, it adds that Liverpool have also expressed interest in the player who has a €45m (£38.9m, $48.5m) release clause in his contract.

Furthermore, AS suggests that Atletico Madrid would be open to part ways with the defender if their current Fifa transfer embargo is lifted. Yet, if Gimenez leaves, they would need to sign another centre-back to fill the gap and have already identified a potential candidate in Sao Paulo youngster Lyanco Vojnovic.