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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Man Utd target Senderos
Phillipe Senderos at the Under-16 European Championships
Senderos (left) has been impressive for Servette

Manchester United are in the race to sign highly-rated Swiss defender Philippe Senderos.

Senderos, just 17, plays for Servette in the Swiss league.

He has been the target of several clubs, including PSV Eindhoven, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, whom he has reportedly turned down.

But European Champions Real Madrid, who have drawn up a pre-contract agreement, are the odds-on favourite to sign Senderos.

"It is no surprise that top clubs like Manchester United are after him," Swiss journalist Silvano Speranza told BBC Sport Online from Zurich.

"He is big, tall and technically gifted.

"He would be a perfect replacement for Laurent Blanc. He is young and has a lot of room to improve."

Sir Alex Ferguson will have to stage a major coup to lure the youngster to Old Trafford, as Liverpool were the first English side to declare serious interest.

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
Houllier is also on Senderos' tail

Gerard Houllier has been on the tail of the 2m-rated player since the European Under-17 Championships.

He travelled to Geneva to speak to the player and subsequently sent out assistant manager Phil Thompson to monitor his form.

The consistent form of Stephane Henchoz, a Swiss international and an intergral part of Liverpool's central defence, has convinced Houllier of the pedigree of Swiss defenders.

However, the player could delay any international transfer until he completes his secondary education in 2004.

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