Club want to increase Manchester United target's €36m release clause

Iker Muniain Spain V Morocco

Athletic Bilbao want to prevent Iker Muniain from being snapped up, with Barcelona recently linked.

Athletic Bilbao are a club who don't like to do business, almost stringently sticking to their 'we do not negotiate' policy regarding their star players.

Instead club president Jose Urrutia demands if clubs are interested, they must front up the full release clause in the player's contracts, or walk away.

Even this is not always simple, as Manchester United found out with regard to Ander Herrera on deadline day, failing to arrange the paperwork and legal side of the move in time to seal the transfer.

The release clauses in the players' contracts are usually above their market value to deter prospective buyers, and this is the way they aim to keep it.

A player previously linked with Manchester United is playmaker Iker Muniain, once dubbed the Spanish Messi during his breakthrough season in 2011/12, in which he scored at Old Trafford as Bilbao defeated the Red Devils in the Europa League.

He endured a difficult season last time out, scoring just twice La Liga games compared to the 10 the season before, but has shown signs of a return to form this season.

Muniain already has five goals to his name, while he has also bagged four in six games for the Spanish under-21 side since the season begun.

His current contract expires in 2015, and Bilbao are looking to reward him with an extensive deal and look after their own interests too.

With reports that United have anywhere between £100 and £200 million to spend surfacing in the last few days, and Bilbao players not cup tied for the Champions League, it's very possible Muniain could re-emerge onto their radar.

Muniain's current release clause is identical to that of Ander Herrera at a reported €36 million, and Bilbao want to increase it.

Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo report that Barcelona have recently expressed an interest, and also do not want to allow his contract to run down and lose him on a free next summer like Fernando Llorente.

They report: "Athletic to avoid another 'Llorente case' and to prevent the interest of several clubs by Muniain including FC Barcelona, want to renew it and increase his clause... the renewal is a priority in the club."

If as reported Manchester United, or any other interested club, has money to spend this January and want to pay up his release clause now - it may be one of their last opportunities to get their hands on him, at a price which is expensive if not ridiculous.

image: © 3oheme

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