Man United to battle Barcelona in race to sign Valencia protégé

Manchester United are reportedly set to beat Barcelona in the battle to sign Valencia’s teenager star Fran Villalba.

The 18-year-old midfielder is a product of the Spanish side’s youth academy, and made his first team league debut last season.

Villalba has a £3.6m release clause with the Spanish side, and after struggling to kick on with the senior squad this term, is set to depart the club as early as January.

Liverpool have been linked with Villalba in the past, but Spanish outlet El Desmarque say it’s north west rivals United who are leading the charge.

It’s believed United want to place the Spanish U19 international in their academy in January, and see how he progresses.

United are no strangers to putting their faith in youth, handing out debuts to a number of academy players in recent season, including Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Joe Riley.

But despite that fine pedigree, the Old Trafford outfit may be usurped by Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have also been keeping tabs on the Valencia youngster, and may see him as a man who could succeed 32-year-old Andreas Iniesta at the Nou Camp.

After a wobbly September, Jose Mourinho’s side will hope to bounce back following the international break.

The Special One will face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool next Monday, before heading to Stamford Bridge to face his old employers Chelsea.

United are 13/5 to win at Anfield on the next edition of Monday Night Football, with 12/5 saying they win at Stamford Bridge a week later.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing