Chelsea, Manchester City and United are scouting Udinese defender Mehdi Benatia with a view to a possible bid in the January transfer window.
Benatia is known as one of Serie A’s most uncompromising and well disciplined defenders, something United and Chelsea have lacked of late.
The French-born, Moroccan International said: “I have always been interested in the English which is very aggressive but also at the same time very sporting.”
So it seems he likes English football and his style of play is very much in the typical Premiership mould.
Udinese have traditionally been a by low and sell high club, and this policy has seen them slowly but surely cement themselves as a well-run established Serie A club.
And this was exactly the case with Benatia, he was in danger of slipping through the net as Marseille released him to Clemont, until Udinese plucked him from the obscurity of lower end of French football
Udinese are having quite a start to this season as they currently sit at the top of the league, level on points with Lazio.
If Chelsea, Man City or United came calling then the 24-year-old would undoubtedly jump at the chance to play in a league he clearly admires, but Udinese’s league form puts them in a very good position when and if it comes down to the fee negotiating.
He doesn’t have a great deal of European experience; he played against Arsenal in a Champions League Qualifier and has turned out in some Europa League matches.
But he is very highly regarded in Italy, where frugal defences are almost as popular as pasta and respecting one’s mother.
Benatia is also a very versatile defender who can play either on the left-side of a back three or in the middle of a 4-4-2.
Italian commentators have remarked on his excellent touch and ability on the ball, but underline his steely determination.
Back in March Samir Nasri encouraged his then manager, Arsene Wenger, to make a move for his former team-mate at Marseille.
Maybe this association will give Roberto Mancini the edge should he face competition from a multitude of clubs.