Standard Liege midfielder Steven Defour would turn down Liverpool to keep alive Manchester United ambitions

Bitter rivals battle for one of Europe's hottest properties
By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent

Steven Defour would turn down a move to Liverpool in order to keep alive his dream of playing for Manchester United, UK can reveal.

The Standard Liege midfielder is being chased by a number of clubs across Europe and United have been leading the pack for the last two years.

Liverpool are one of the other clubs to have expressed an interest in the 22-year-old, who would fit into the new owners' strategy of buying young and talented players.

But UK understands that Defour does not want to move to Anfield as he believes it would ruin his chances of playing for United, their bitter rivals.

Cause to celebrate | Sir Alex Ferguson has been an admirer of Steven Defour for years

“There are many big clubs interested in Steven but he does not want to play for Liverpool at this moment,” a source close to the player told UK.

“For the last two years Manchester United has been his number one choice and if he plays for Liverpool he is unlikely to fulfil that dream because of the rivalry between the teams.

“He would love to play under [Sir Alex] Ferguson and there may not be another chance if his next move is not to Manchester.

“But both clubs are watching him very closely and he is flattered by all the interest and takes it seriously.”

Ferguson wrote to Defour last year expressing his sympathy after he suffered a long-term foot injury and the player is believed to be desperate to play under the Scot and alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

The Belgium international, who is valued at around £11.5 million, could be on his way out of Standard Liege in January, although a summer move to England appears more likely at this stage.

“Maybe he could leave in January but it depends on the financial offer made to his club,” added the source.

Ferguson may look to avoid a summer scramble by wrapping up a move for Defour in January, using part of the £50m he is being given by the Glazer family to invest in the squad.

Italian, Spanish and French sides are also interested in Defour but the Standard Liege captain hinted last month that a move to Old Trafford is his priority.

He said: “I do know that Manchester United are monitoring me - if everything goes well and I continue playing as I am, there is a better chance of me leaving than there was at the start of the season.”

Our  provides the best breaking news online and our  football fan community is unmatched worldwide. Never miss a thing again!