Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are monitoring Luka Modric's situation at Real Madrid.
The Croatian playmaker signed for the La Liga champions in a £33m deal from Tottenham Hotspur last summer, bringing an end to one of the most protracted transfer sagas in recent years. However, the 27-year-old has struggled to match his price tag at the Bernabeu and has now fallen down Jose Mourinho's pecking order.
Modric has failed to provide competition for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira for a spot in Madrid's midfield and has started just eight league games so far. He was voted the worst signing of 2012 by readers of Spain's leading newspaper Marca last week. The Mirror believes the former Spurs star is considering a return to England at the end of this season.
Chelsea, who made a £40m bid to sign Modric on deadline day of the 2011 summer transfer window, remain admirers of the midfielder and with veteran midfielder Frank Lampard set to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, the Blues are understood to be keeping tabs on the situation in Madrid.
If United do land Modric, it might be sweet revenge for Ferguson. The 71-year-old Scot has called for an inquiry into the transfer of Ezekiel Fryers from Belgian club Standard Liege to Spurs. Fryers is a Manchester United youth product and left Old Trafford under contentious circumstances in the summer, following failed negotiations with Tottenham.
"There's nothing we can do about it but I think that really we should, first of all, register our discontent in it. I think the league should look into it. I think the registration should be stopped until they investigate it thoroughly. There's bound to be a trail, either mobile phones or e-mails, that could give you the full story of it," Ferguson told MUTV.
Tottenham and United are also likely to go head-to-head in a race to sign Crystal Palace youngster Wilfried Zaha. Reports indicate Spurs have already launched a £10m bid to sign the Championship youngster.