Juventus have joined Manchester United in the race to sign FC Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala in the summer. talkSPORT reports that the Italian Champions want to strengthen their defence in order to put in a Champions League challenge next season and have earmarked the Frenchman to lead their backline.

Eliaquim Mangala

The highly-rated defender is expected to be available for a sum of £17m. The Red Devils were eyeing the player as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand, who will turn 35 this year and is not expected to extend his stay at United when his contract expires next year. However, Juventus' intervention will be a major blow for David Moyes, who will be taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford next season.

United do have a lot of young defenders to fall back on, with Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all capable of putting in assured performances at the back. The 22-year-old has made 14 starts this season for Porto in all competitions, scoring four goals in the process, a good return for a defender.

Neville on Crediting Players

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes that it is inevitable that the players will be scrutinised after their league win and compared to other past league winning teams under Sir Alex Ferguson. However, he adds that the season has seen a lot of young players make their mark, which is an added advantage when assembling a team for next year.

"When you're at Manchester United and you've had a manager who has built four great teams - '94, '99, 2008 and you can now argue this one that has won the league - people are always going to compare teams and look back; I do it myself sometimes. The most important thing to say about this team is it's on an upward curve. You've got players like De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Smalling, Jones, Cleverley, Welbeck and Hernandez to name eight players who are still young and haven't reached anywhere near their peak," Neville told United's official website.

"You've also got a mix of players in the middle who are at their peak, then you've got the experienced lads at the other end. This team has still not reached its potential. I'm sure there will be additions to the squad this summer so you're talking about a team on the up," he added.