Manchester United have joined the £20million battle for West Ham United striker Carlton Cole. The Daily Mail says Sir Alex Ferguson wants to add strength to a squad weakened by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and has identified the England man as a replacement.

Nevertheless, a spokesman at Upton Park insisted last night that Cole is "not for sale", and added: "We want to keep all our best players and the suggestion that we need to sell because of a financial crisis is not true."

Cole has missed out on England's friendly against Brazil in Qatar tonight because of injury but his development under Fabio Capello, as well as the progress he has made working with Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke at West Ham, has made him an attractive proposition.

Liverpool are also understood to be interested.