Manchester United Table £71m Bid For Key Chelsea TargetChels

Earlier this week, we reported news from El Confidencial that Manchester United were eyeing up Alvaro Morata, the Real Madrid striker who had just returned to the Spanish capital after two years at Juventus. It seemed pretty far-fetched at the time, given that Jose Mourinho specifically asked United to acquire Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s services, and the rise of Marcus Rashford has essentially killed off any need for a third high-profile striker, certainly not one that would expect to be a regular starter. Well, Spanish paper Marca have now brought their own implausible rumour to the table.

As per James Cambridge in The Express, Marca suggest that the presence of Marco Asensio, who spent last season on loan at Espanyol, has further cluttered Zinedine Zidane’s midfield to the point that James Rodriguez would be allowed to leave this summer. The Colombian endured an injury-hit campaign last season, making just 17 starts for Los Blancos in La Liga, and with the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo guaranteed starting places, Rodriguez may well be this summer’s fall guy. He has been linked with a move to Chelsea as well as PSG.

This all sounds completely possible; Rodriguez has failed to make much of an impression in Spain since his move from AS Monaco after the 2014 World Cup, and Real could realistically be ready to cash in. What feels less logical is the suggestion that Real turned down a £71m bid from United for the player last month. It’s a huge amount of money for a player who has failed to justify his own €80m transfer two years ago, let alone one who isn’t a regular starter at Real, which suggests that Marca might be telling tales in order to make Los Blancos look good.

That in itself isn’t new; AS, another Madrid-based sports paper are also well versed in serving up tasty PR to make Real and the club’s President Florentino Perez look as good as they can, but in this case, with the club priced out of a deal for Paul Pogba by United, PR is all it appears to be.

It makes less sense from United’s perspective, too and doesn’t mention that United are closing in on the signing of Pogba and already added Henrikh Mkhitaryan to their ranks earlier this summer, meaning space in midfield or out wide is already minimal. Even on the off chance that United had genuine interest in the player, £70m, given how badly Angel Di Maria fared when the club brought him over from Madrid two summers ago for £60m would suggest that United haven’t learned their lesson when it comes to paying Real’s gigantic prices.

As such, it’s probably safe to ignore Marca on this one, primarily because United have little need to strengthen in the position that Rodriguez plays, and partially because the numbers being used are fanciful, to say the least.