Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is as a surprise transfer target for Spanish champions Real Madrid, according to the Daily Telegraph.
De Gea, 21, arrived at Old Trafford from Realâ€™s local rivals Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011 for a reported ÂŁ18 million with the expectation that he would be the immediate first choice in goal at Old Trafford, following the retirement of Edwin van der Sar.
However, things have not quite worked out as planned. De Gea attracted criticism, much of it harsh, for some early errors upon his arrival and soon found himself replaced by Anders Lindegaard. The Spain Under-21 international looked to have settled in the English game following a season-ending injury suffered by his rival, however his problems, particularly dealing with aerial balls into the box have resurfaced during the early stages of this campaign. De Gea has now been forced to share playing time with Lindegaard.
The Telegraphâ€™s story cites Spanish sources claiming that De Gea is homesick in Manchester and would welcome a return to Spain. Real are said to see De Gea as a long-term replacement for Iker Casillas. With the goalkeeping great still only aged 31, though, it would appear highly premature to begin thinking about his successor.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would also likely be loathed to concede that he made a mistake in signing De Gea. Despite his problems, De Gea has shown that he has the ability to be one of the worldâ€™s best between the sticks.
On the incoming front, there has been further news about Manchester Unitedâ€™s reported pursuit of PSV Eindhoven midfielder Kevin Strootman. The 22-year-old Dutchman has continued to impress for PSV and even captained his country in their recent World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Romania. Strootmanâ€™s agent has ruled out the possibility of him leaving in January, though intriguingly talked up a potential move next summer.
â€śMy client could leave in January? Absolutely not,â€ť Chiel Dekker told Italian website Calciomercato.com. There's nothing in that.
"We are only in Octoberâ€”the only thing I can say is to call me back in May."
Strootman has also been strongly linked with a move to Milan.
Manchester United are also again linked with a move for much-hyped Croatian youngster Alen Halilovic. The 16-year-old became the youngest scorer in the history of the Croatian Prva Liga when he found the net for Dinamo Zagreb earlier this month.
According to the Daily Mail, the big clubs of Europe are already circling, with United as well as Manchester City and Real Madrid all trailing the potential star.
The story claims that Halilovic is already training with the La Liga side but both United and City are preparing ÂŁ6 million offers.
While Halilovicâ€™s physical appearance has likely influenced comparisons to former United target Luka Modric, the youngster has also had to fight off being likened to Barcelona great Lionel Messi.
In other news, Manchester United are also reported to be interested in Bosnian defender Ognjen Vranjes. The 23-year-old right-back currently plies his trade for Russian side Krasnodar, but is said to be firmly on Unitedâ€™s radar, according to Bosnian source SportSport.ba.
Scouts are said to have been in attendance to watch Vranjesâ€™ performance for Bosnia and Herzegovina in their World Cup qualifier with Lithuania last week.