Manchester United and Koke are the new Manchester United and Cesc Fabregas.
You know the story: The will-they-won’t-they tale of a football club in desperate need of a quality midfielder, and a player who is quite happy where he is.
Before Fabregas there was Thiago Alcantara, where the story took a different twist, although it was no more pleasing to David Moyes, and before that, well, you get the point: United have been on the look-out for a top-class midfielder for quite some time, but up until now they have only managed to get Marouane Fellaini.
And so it came as something of an inevitable disappointment to their fans when it was announced that Koke had signed a new deal at Atletico Madrid; a deal that saw his release-clause increased to a reported £50million.
And yet Spanish broadsheet El Confidencial has run a story that is cause for optimism among the fans of the reigning English champions.
They point to two very good reasons why Koke’s new deal does not automatically mean a long-term stay at Atletico. And both those reasons are currently playing for United’s domestic rivals – Sergio Aguero and Fernando Torres.
“As with Torres and Kun, Koke’s renewal means nothing”, yesterday’s headline declared. And they then went on to explain why.
It claimed that as with Torres and Aguero, the La Liga club’s first step “before accepting the sale of one of its best players is to increase the clause and contract duration. Thus, aside from temporarily quietening the fans, they are assured as much as possible in a transfer fee.”
The report claims this happened prior to Torres’s move to Liverpool and Aguero’s transfer to City, and that Atletico’s financial needs means a move cannot be ruled out despite the new deal.
So what does this mean for United, if anything?
Well in short it means they will have to stump up more to sign Koke, if they are that desperate to sign him. And it also appears to suggest that the Spanish side are canny operators, well aware of the value of their prize-assets and ensuring they get every last penny when those players move on.
So now it looks as if the ball is firmly back in Moyes’ court…unless he can find a cheaper alternative, that is.
image: © azuaje