Out of the five players perpetually linked with a summer switch to Manchester United - Gareth Bale (20 rumours printed in mainstream press during current window), Robert Lewandowski (18 rumours), Cesc Fabregas (17), Cristiano Ronaldo (13) and Marouane Fellaini (9) - it is the two La Liga representatives who may prove to be a tough purchase as they have both won increasing acclaim at their respective clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
United have already lodged transfer bids with Barca in order to enter personal negotiations with Cesc, however, they were swiftly rejected on both occasions. While Red Devils boss David Moyes has suggested that their pursuit of the former Arsenal playmaker was 'ongoing' last week, any further effort looks set to be thwarted as the Camp Nou vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu is insistent Cesc will remain 'a Barcelona player'.
Recently-installed Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino and Fabregas will now, according to reports, meet in order to discuss the player's future and how he will fit into Martino's first-team plans. Martino, though, has already spoken out about how he rates the 26-year-old.
Moyes, speaking to reporters in Hong Kong today, even alluded to the possibility of United turning their attentions elsewhere. According to The Independent, he said: 'I never said I knew we would get him… I just said we had made offers. They have been rejected. We will take stock of the situation and decide where we go from there. Undoubtedly, we're hoping to [add to the squad].'
One of those players Moyes is alleged to hope to add is ruthless Madrid attacker Ronaldo, 28, who is the subject of speculation as the press linking of Gareth Bale to Real is associated with Cristiano's departure. However, Carlo Ancelotti has lauded the Portuguese, describing the powerful forward as a 'phenomenon'.
Speaking in Spanish during a conference call with the media prior to Real's duty in the Guiness International Champions Cup, the Italian said 'I've trained tons of talented players but Ronaldo is a phenomenon. He has an incredible talent, physical quality, and I'm extremely happy to coach him. I'm convinced he's going to have a great season.'
While club fans may grow impatient at the lack of a star addition to a squad who claimed the Premier League crown with ease last season, Moyes remains calm: 'What we’ve got here already is a really good squad of players,' he said in Hong Kong, before finishing. 'I’m confident we will [add to it] before the window shuts.'
image: © Jan S0L0