Ronald Araujo has reportedly knocked back a contract renewal offer from Barcelona, handing Chelsea and Manchester United a major boost in his pursuit.

According to a report by Spanish publication MARCA, Chelsea and Manchester United have been handed a major boost in the race to sign Ronald Araujo. The Uruguayan defender has rejected the opening contract offer from Barcelona, although negotiations are not ending anytime soon.

Ronald Araujo has made massive strides in his career since making his first-team debut for Barcelona in October 2019. The 22-year-old was officially promoted to the senior setup at the onset of the 2020/21 season and is now a mainstay at the back for the Blaugrana.

The Uruguayan international, who is arguably Barcelona’s best defender at the moment, has made 63 appearances for the club to date. But the Catalan giants are in a spot of bother over Araujo’s long-term future as he has entered the final 18 months of his current contract. Such a situation has captured the attention of Chelsea and Manchester United.

The interest from Chelsea stems from the precarious situations of Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger. The three defenders are into the final six months of their respective Chelsea contracts and could depart Stamford Bridge as free agents.

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All three defenders have coincidentally been linked with Barcelona, with Azpilicueta reportedly set to join the Catalan club in the summer. The departure of even one defender will prompt Chelsea to enter the market for a centre-back, making Araujo a viable target. But the Blues face stiff competition from rivals Manchester United in his pursuit.

Like Chelsea, the Red Devils are prepared to launch the offensive for Araujo and have already had one offer rejected by Barcelona. Manchester United’s eagerness to sign the 22-year-old comes in the wake of their defensive struggles this season, with captain Harry Maguire recently relegated to the bench by Ralf Rangnick for his poor performances.

Chelsea and Manchester United have now been handed a major boost in pursuit of Araujo, who has rebuffed Barcelona’s opening contract offer. But this is not the end of negotiations between the two parties, although Barcelona will need to beware of the urgency of the situation.

Once Araujo enters the final year of his contract, his suitors will have even more impetus to launch the offensive for him over a cut-price move. The Uruguayan international does want to stay put at Barcelona but will only sign a renewal if he is handed a deal that aptly reflects his performances.

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