Barcelona join Premier League trio in Mangala battle
Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona, who are 7/2 second-favourites for the Champions League, will rival interest from Premier League heavyweights Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the battle to capture centre back Eliaquim Mangala.
Tabloid reports claim Barca boss Tata Martino wants Porto’s highly-rated 23-year-old to shore up his defence, which has conceded five goals in as many matches in all competitions. Three of those went in during their last outing – a shock defeat at Real Sociedad.
Losing in the Basque Country dented the hopes of Catalan giants Barcelona retaining their Spanish top-flight crown. El Clasico rivals Real Madrid now lead La Liga by three points.
Mangala, who is reportedly valued at £40m, has won back-to-back domestic titles with Porto and played in the Champions League group stage this season.
He has been scouted by Chelsea, City and United throughout the current campaign.
Under pressure Red Devils manager David Moyes has Mangala, and Roma defender Mehdi Benatia, high on his Old Trafford wish-list.
Moving to United is not an attractive option right now, however, as they slumped to their first ever defeat against Greek opposition at Olympiakos.
Moyes’ men are now 33/1 shots to win the Champions League and must overturn a two-goal deficit to qualify for the quarter-finals. The Red Devils are odds-on at 2/5 to be eliminated in the current round.
United skipper Nemanja Vidic is leaving at the end of the season and Rio Ferdinand may follow him amid rumours of retirement. Punters can back Ferdinand with Coral to hang up his boots in May at 9/4.
City coach Manuel Pellergrini needs to replace Joleon Lescott at the Etihad this summer when his contract ends. The Chilean has also chopped and changed club captain Vincent Kompany’s centre back partner throughout the season, with faithful retainer Martin Demichelis and young Serbia international Matija Nastasic vying with Lescott.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho has already secured St-Etienne man-mountain, and Mangala’s fellow Frenchman, Kurt Zouma for next term at Stamford Bridge. ‘The Special One’ may also be interested in Madrid youngster Raphael Varane.
Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic (commonly used at right back), David Luiz (another rumoured Barca target) and Chelsea captain John Terry complete their current senior options.
Long-serving Barcelona skipper Carles Puyol is set to join the coaching staff at the Nou Camp in the next year, so will need replacing. Martino has Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and converted defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano to choose from at centre back.
Mangala will turn out for Porto in Europa League action away to Eintracht Frankfurt next. The Portuguese giants are 6/4 to win in Germany, 9/4 to keep a clean sheet and he is 8/1 to score anytime.