Are Barcelona set to land Benatia? 

As Roma Graffiti

Barcelona are serious about signing Roma defender Mehdi Benatia and will put down the first concrete bid, according to press reports.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United may need to act quickly if they want to sign Mehdi Benatia because Barcelona will reportedly make the first move.

Roma finished runners-up in Serie A and Moroccan centre-back Benatia played an important role for the Giallorossi in marshalling the defence.

Many believe Benatia to be the best defender in Serie A right now and Roma, who paid Udinese £12m for the stopper, face a battle to keep him this summer.

Benatia has reportedly asked for his salary of £1m per year to be more than doubled to £2.2m if he is to sign a contract renewal committing his future to Roma.

Roma are said to be considering Benatia's demands, having just done a similar deal with highly rated midfielder Miralem Pjanic, but their finances are very carefully controlled and such a sum may not be possible.

A long list of top European clubs are said to be interested in adding Benatia to their ranks, but the latest reports in Italy suggest that there is a clear front runner.

Il Messaggero believes that Barcelona will step in with an offer of £24m to Roma and are ready to give the player a four-year deal starting at £3.3m per season and rising annually.

Roma may find that kind of money hard to turn down and Benatia would have little choice but to move on.

However, Roma will be hoping that if Barcelona do formalise their approach it will start a bidding war between some of Europe's big guns.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch