Barcelona in the lead to buy Roma's Chivu

June 27, 2007

MILAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Barcelona are leading the hunt to sign AS Roma defender Cristian Chivu, the Serie A runners-up said on Wednesday.

The Romanian is being courted by the Spanish club and Italian champions Inter Milan but Roma will not let go of one of their key players easily.

'The asking price of Roma for Chivu is set at 18 million euros ($24.2 million), the offer from the Spaniards is interesting but for reasons of privacy between the two clubs it is not possible to communicate how much,' Roma sporting director Daniele Prade was quoted as saying on the Gazzetta dello Sport website.

'From Inter there has been no official offer.'

Chivu's relationship with Roma boss Luciano Spalletti deteriorated after the player failed to contact his manager to discuss his future.