Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez has earmarked the signing of Manchester City target Nicolas Otamendi as his top priority should Sergio Ramos make the move to Manchester United, according to Marca.
Eugenio Lopez, the agent of the Argentine international, revealed earlier in June that his client is likely to leave Valencia during the summer transfer window to make a step up in his career.
"Two months ago Nicolas already told [president] Amadeo Salvo he wants to leave Valencia this summer. If there's an offer from a club we consider a top club, and it benefits his family, Nico wants to go. There are many discussions with several clubs who want to sign Otamendi," Lopez said on 25 May to Cadena Ser.
Valencia responded to the player claiming that should any suitors want Otamendi, they would need to meet his €50m (£35.6m, $55.8m) release clause to complete the signing.
And Spanish newspaper Super Deporte later reported that both Manchester United and Real Madrid have met with Lopez to express their interest in securing his services.
But the situation has changed in the past few days after AS reported on Sunday 21 June that Ramos is likely to leave the Santiago Bernabeu – with United his most likely destination.
Cadena Ser then claimed Manchester City have taken advantage of their rival's interest in Ramos to join the race to secure the services of Otamendi.
The Spanish radio station claimed that even though Valencia had asked suitors to pay Otamendi's release clause, City are in a strong situation because the Spaniards still owe Manuel Pellegrini's side money regarding Alvaro Negredo's move to Mestalla.
But Spanish newspaper Marca now claims the Premier League runners up may suffer a blow in the race to secure the defender as Benitez has identified the Argentine as the top priority to replace Ramos, if the Spaniard leaves for Old Trafford.
Marca claimed Otamendi has blocked negotiations over a potential move to the Premier League until he receives an offer from the Spanish giants.