The future of Ilkay Gundogan is a massive talking point in German media at the moment - as some of Europe’s top clubs reportedly carry a torch for this dynamic midfield maestro.
In recent months the news regarding his future has stepped up. Borussia Dortmund have admitted he is the player they are most helpless with regarding his long-term future.
Then there were the words of his father, and agent, last month. He suggested Real Madrid had been chasing his son and were very keen to bring him in - rumours swiftly denied by Dortmund.
Now - it is Barcelona who seem to be the front runners.
Gundogan, who has only played 50-odd minutes of football this season because of a nerve problem in his back, is said to be seen as a long term successor to Xavi in the Barca starting XI.
And while Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently played down reports from Spain, saying they wouldn’t be ‘able to put a team together’ if all Spanish reports were to be believed - this report is coming from much closer to home.
It is German daily Bild who ran the news yesterday - suggesting Barca had been in touch with Gundogan’s representatives over a potential transfer in the summer.
His father Irfan and his uncle Ilfay have, on several occasions, met with the Barca bosses. Gundogan is considered their desired successor for Xavi (33).
Gundogan himself recently stated:
"I will soon make a decision that will be well considered. It's still really open."
For United the apparently advanced interest of Barcelona is a massive blow. Their need to replace Xavi in the coming years is certainly similar to United’s requirement to replace Paul Scholes - something they have still not done.
Gundogan is a brilliant option for that role - and at a quoted price of around £25 million he is a fantastic buy.
But the danger now is that other clubs seem to be one step ahead of David Moyes … once again.
image: © jeroen_bennink