In what is becoming one of the most anticipated possible exports from La Liga in recent years, Chelsea and Manchester United are prepared to duke it out over the transfer of Atletico Bilbao starlet, Iker Muniain.
The Spanish Under-21 prospect is reported to have been on the radar of the Red Devils for some two-and-a-half years now but as of yet a deal is still to materialize.
Chelsea are now throwing their name into the mix however and will be looking to upset any sort of precedence that United may have had over the youngster’s signature by submitting a bid of their own.
The Basque winger commands an asking price of £38m, however neither club will be expected to pay the requested price, instead making formal offers of their own.
Both Premier League sides are said to be in the market for young, creative talent and with good reason too.
Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping to build a prodigious empire at Old Trafford before his inevitable departure in coming seasons while Andre Villas Boas is also looking to create a dynasty of his own at Stamford Bridge.
Reports suggest that the already stuttering relationship between Villas Boas and club favourite Frank Lampard could be worsening and with the midfielder spending more and more time on the sidelines, his future at the club looks uncertain.
Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba are three other names being linked with January exits from the side and could free up funds to make the £25m acquisition of Muniain a reality.
It’s thought that in a bid to secure his signature, the Champions League pair may offer Bilbao the chance to hold on to their star before completing the transfer in the summer.
The La Liga club with an all-Basque policy may not want to let go of their hotshot, but may have no choice if a big-money move comes in for his services and the promise of holding on to him for another six months particularly tempting.