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MILAN claim that Manchester United want Fabricio Coloccini, although the player seems to be lined up for a possible move to Real Madrid.

The highly-rated defender has performed well on loan at Alaves, and the 2001 Uefa Cup runners-up have an option to buy him on a permanent basis for £8.7 million at the end of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson is aware of the need for defensive reinforcements at Old Trafford, but Real are also in the hunt for the teenage sensation.

"We know that Real Madrid or any other club could pay Alaves to take the player," Milan's general director Ariedo Braida told Marca.

"But the only one club that are definitely interested in signing Coloccini are Manchester United."

The 19-year-old Argentinian may be unlikely to stay at Alaves, certainly beyond his loan spell, as top clubs are now on his trail.

After being voted Player of the Month in October, for scoring four goals and performing splendidly at the heart of the defence, the South American has seen his stock rise considerably.

"It is necessary to take advantage of things that are happening to me," said the former Boca Juniors starlet.

"Success has very quickly arrived for me. Before I could walk, my mother told me that I already liked to play with a football.

"My father was a footballer - he only ate peas because they were round.

"It feels me with pride that a great club, as it has been spoken about Real Madrid, is interested in me, and also that there is a prospect of going with my country to the World Cup, but it is difficult."

Coloccini would link up with compatriot Juan Sebastian Veron at Old Trafford, if United were to win the chase for his signature, and the 2001 World Youth Cup winner holds dual Italian-Argentinian nationality, so there would be no work permit problems.

The precocious young centre back left Boca after only one appearance, in order to secure a lucrative switch to Milan, and looks set for another permanent transfer in the near future.