Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly interested in a highly-rated Everton teenager.
Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to once again look toward youth as he seeks to strengthen his squad this summer. Reuters

The dust is still settling on Manchester United's defeat to neighbors City last night that could well be fatal to their hopes of retaining their Premier League title. But the truth is regardless of the result at the Etihad, United's squad needed strengthening this summer if they are to continue to challenge both at home and in Europe.

United's strategy has long since been founded on youth and that is likely to continue with their recruitment in the close season.

One target certainly in that vein is highly-rated Everton teenager Ross Barkley. According to The People, Ferguson is a big admirer of Barkley's abilities and potential. And there is an expectation that United will fight it out with Premier League rivals Chelsea for the youngster's signature. The report states that Chelsea are prepared to offer £10 million for Barkley and then loan him back to Goodison Park for next season.

Barkley burst onto the scene earlier in the campaign after being named Everton's man of the match on his debut for the club against Queens Park Rangers. But, after much early hype, his manager David Moyes has sought to take Barkley out of the limelight in the intervening months. Indeed, the18-year-old only made his second appearance in the first-team this year in Saturday's 4-0 win over Fulham.

So far in his young career, Barkley has played in a wide midfield berth for Everton, but the suspicions is that he will end up occupying a central role. Chelsea reportedly view him as a long-term replacement for Frank Lampard.

Barkley has come through the youth ranks for England and has already turned out for the under-21 side.

Everton will be loathed to lose someone who is already one of their prized assets. And the situation will also bring back memories of Manchester United's capture of Wayne Rooney from Everton in 2004, when the forward was also still a teenager.

United have also repeatedly been linked to another young Everton midfielder, Jack Rodwell, over the past few seasons.