Manchester United face competition in a reported bid for AS Roma defender Marquinhos, with Spanish giants Barcelona declaring an interest. A report by talkSPORT indicates the Nou Camp club will target the 18-year-old Brazilian as part of a summer revamp of defensive options.
Marquinhos only joined the Rome club last summer, transferring from Corinthians in Brazil. Nevertheless, he has been impressive in his debut Serie A season, with 23 appearances to his name. The Express believes Sir Alex Ferguson is keen on signing Marquinhos and his team mate, Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela, who, incidentally, is also a Barcelona target.
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is expected to receive significant financial backing in the summer, to recover from the dismal 7-0 Champions League semi final defeat to Bayern Munich. The Catalans have long been criticised for failing to attend to defensive problems. They have only Spain internationals Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol, who is 35-years-old, as first choice centre-backs. As a result, defensive midfielders like Javier Mascherano, Alex Song and Sergio Busquets have had to fill in on more than one occasion, leading to imbalances in play.
United and Ferguson are in similar straits. The club's first choice pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are both at the end of their careers, as is left-back Patrice Evra. They do have youngsters like Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Alexander Buttner and Rafael but further signings are necessary to provide cover and competition.
Marquinhos' contract with Roma runs to 2017 and Barcelona are understood to be preparing an £18m bid for the player. However, any move will have to work hard to persuade both the Serie A club and the player, both of whom are believed to be very happy with each other.
"Everything is happening very fast at the moment. I try not to look too far ahead. The interest from a number of important clubs? I am not thinking about a transfer. I owe Roma a lot for the chance they gave me," Marquinhos told La Gazzetta dello Sport.