By Wayne Veysey | UK Correspondent
Manchester United are weighing up a €18 million swoop for Valencia left-back Jordi Alba, Goal.com UK has learned.
The Premier League champions are scouting a long-term replacement for Patrice Evra even though there is no suggestion that they could be ready to listen to offers for the Frenchman.
Alba has come to the attention of United since establishing himself in Valencia's first team and becoming a full Spain international last September.
Goal.com understands that Sir Alex Ferguson has instructed his scouts to take a closer look at Alba after initial reports on the 23-year-old earlier this year were said to be extremely encouraging.
Rivals Manchester City are also closely monitoring the defender and their scouts paid particular attention to him during the January window.
However, as revealed by Goal.com earlier this month, it is believed that City’s top left-back target to replace Aleksandar Kolarov is Lille teenager Lucas Digne, who could be available for €8.5m this summer.
Alba was released by Barcelona aged 16 but has flourished at Valencia, who are third in Spain’s Primera Liga.
He was called up to the Spain squad for last two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Scotland and Czech Republic last autumn, and started in the 1-0 friendly defeat to England at Wembley in November.
Valencia’s well-documented financial problems mean that the Spanish club could be ready to negotiate the sale of one of their prize assets. United sources believe a deal could be agreed for around the €18m mark.
Evra has been an ever-presence in United’s charge to the Premier League summit, starting all 33 of the team’s matches, as well as eight of their 11 European fixtures.
Nevertheless, his age – he turns 31 next month – and growing vulnerability have led United to consider long-term alternatives.