Reports: Manchester United prepare £177million bid for Real Madrid star
What's the story?
Manchester United started their Premier League campaign in fine goalscoring form, netting 21 goals in their first seven games. However, their prolificity has waned considerably since the end of September, and United have now only scored two goals in their last four games. The lack of goals is a worrying sign for United, who are now eight points behind local rivals Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho has already begun plans to strengthen United's attack, and according to reports by Spanish news outlet Don Balon, the Red Devils are preparing a £177million move for Real Madrid's Marco Asensio. Manchester United are expected to approach the 21-year-old Spaniard in the summer transfer window, and the move would include a five-year contract.
In case you didn't know...
Marco Asensio began his professional career at Mallorca's reserve team, after spending seven years in their academy. The attacking midfielder impressed in his first few matches and was promptly promoted to Mallorca's first-team. Real Madrid came calling in 2014, and signed the youngster for £3.5m, only to loan him back to Mallorca, and then later, to Espanyol.
Asensio only returned to the Bernabeu prior to the 2016-17 season, and made his first appearance for Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla. He scored on his debut for Los Blancos and went on to become a vital part of Zinedine Zidane's squad, making 38 appearances and scoring 10 goals in his first season.
The heart of the matter
Manchester United's attacking midfielders are currently having trouble coming up with up goals, and Mourinho requires a player who can quickly and effectively turn defence into attack. Asensio's pace and ability to dribble will add potency to the United attack, and signing a marquee player could help Jose Mourinho win back fans who have become disillusioned with his tactics against bigger teams.
Manchester United is expected to pay Asensio a jaw-dropping £24m per year, or £461,000 a week if he moves from Madrid to Manchester. The Premier League club will have to sell major players to accommodate these wages, and the move may lead to some high-profile departures.
United will hope that their offer will be enough to sway the youngster, but Asensio recently signed a contract extension with Real Madrid that will keep him in Spain till 2023. The contract reportedly contains an exorbitant release clause, which has been included to ward off potential suitors.
Manchester United are one of the only clubs in the world who could afford to sign Asensio without running afoul of Financial Fair Play. Madrid seem to value Asensio highly, and look like they would resist any move made to sign the player. However, there is a lot of money on the table, and if there is anything that the saga of Neymar dos Santos has taught us, it is that no price is too high.