Liverpool lead race for Barcelona defender

Posted by ESPN staff

Getty ImagesMartin Montoya is behind Dani Alves in the Barcelona pecking order.

Liverpool have got their next defensive target lined up, with the Reds reportedly ready to offer Barcelona defender Martin Montoya a pre-contract in an attempt to fend off interest from rival European clubs. According to German newspaper Bild, Brendan Rodgers' side are ahead in the chase for Montoya, with Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen also showing interest in the 22-year-old. Montoya has started just one game for Barca this season and although he has publicly stated his commitment to the Spanish champions, he could be lured away from the Camp Nou by regular playing opportunities. Brendan Rodgers is keen to sign Montoya next summer but could offer him a deal in January and allow Barcelona to retain the Spaniard for the rest of the season. .

Iker Casillas has raised doubts over his future at Real Madrid after revealing he will "think about leaving" the club if he cannot establish regular playing time by January. And it hasn't taken long for rumours of potential suitors to circle. The Metro has linked Arsenal with the Spaniard and suggest Arsene Wenger will ramp up his interest in Casillas over the next few weeks.

The Daily Express reports St Etienne could be forced to sell defender Kurt Zouma, despite the French club's insistence they are not under financial pressure. Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco are keen to sign the 18-year-old, but Manchester United have emerged as frontrunners for the youngster's signature. David Moyes is expected to make a significant offer the the France international in January, which could leave St Etienne in a difficult position.

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