Man Utd boss Ferguson planning new Villa bid
But Fergie believes there is the chance of nipping in ahead of his rivals after learning of Villa's increasing frustration over his failure to find a new club this summer.
The 27-year-old wants to remain in Spain with Real and Barca his preferred options.
But as yet no move has materialised and the Spanish international is becoming increasingly restless.
Fergie has monitored his situation closely and sources in Spain claim he is ready to meet Valencia's £38m valuation. The danger is that Villa's representatives will use United's interest as a bargaining tool to force the hand of either Real or Barca.