Manchester United are ready to launch a bid for Barcelona superstar Samuel Eto'o. The Times says Sir Alex Ferguson is eager to find a replacement for the Portugal forward as soon as possible and has made a firm inquiry about Eto'o. The United manager is confident of getting the Barcelona forward and knows that he needs to bolster his roster of strikers if Carlos Tévez leaves the club this summer.

Eto'o is one of Manchester City's leading summer transfer targets, but United look like beating their rivals to the Cameroon player's signature.

Eto'o, aged 28, had a fine season at Barcelona, scoring 34 goals to help his team to an unprecedented Spanish league, cup and Champions League treble. He was on target in the 2-0 victory over United in the Champions League final in Rome last month.

He has only a year remaining on his contract, but while Barcelona would like to keep him, they would prefer to cash in now rather than lose him for nothing at the end of next season.

City had offered up to £25 million for Eto'o and were prepared to make him the highest-paid player in the Premier League, but United would hope to secure a deal for less.

It could set up the exciting prospect of the Premiership boasting Africa's two most popular players - Eto'o and Chelsea ace Didier Drogba - next season.