Man United scout watches Hamsik v Atalanta: What did he see?

Manchester United are on the trail of Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik and sent a scout to watch the Partenopei's 3-1 Coppa Italia win over Atalanta.

Manchester United's scouts are currently very active in Italy and the latest player to be observed is Napoli's Slovakian international midfielder Marek Hamsik.

United are looking for a midfield playmaker to help turn their season around and David Moyes' side have been linked with several top European stars.

Moyes was present at Juventus' win over Cagliari last weekend and may have been there to present a bid for Paul Pogba, although Man United have also been linked with Chilean ace Arturo Vidal.

But there are also suggestions that 26-year-old Hamsik is on the shopping list and a representative from the Red Devils attended Napoli's Cup game with Atalanta, according to several Italian media sources including Sportmediaset.

The scout will have been disappointed but not surprised to see Hamsik sitting on the bench from the start of the game.

Hamsik has been suffering with a foot injury that has kept him out since November 23 and Rafa Benitez was always unlikely to risk him for 90 minutes.

The alleged Man United target came on after and hour to replace Goran Pandev and he received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Stadio San Paolo.

Although he looked somewhat tentative at first, Hamsik quickly regained his match sharpness and played an important role as Napoli went from 1-1 to win 3-1.

In fact, he nearly netted a magnificent goal to celebrate his return when he latched on to a perfectly placed through ball from Lorenzo Insigne to volley just wide with the outside of his right foot.

The Manchester United representative will only have had 30 minutes to report on but Hamsik allayed any fears about his long term fitness and showed off his innate ease on the ball and vision for teammates' movement.

Although it hasn't been the easiest of seasons, Hamsik managed 11 goals and 18 assists in Serie A last term and his ability is clear to see.

The game will however be most remembered for the bizarre and controversial way that Napoli took the lead.

Gonzalo Higuain was lingering in an offside position but was deemed not to be interfering with play when the ball hit Atalanta man Cristiano Del Grosso in the back and fell to Insigne to net.

Atalanta were livid as Del Grosso had stopped play to signal at the linesman that Higuain was offside when the ball hit him.

Jose Callejon rubbed salt in the wound with a late third, which was his second of the game to add to a brilliant early volley.

image: © vincentteeuwen

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