Manchester United have been linked, by the Mirror, with a bid for Athletic Bilbao's Oscar de Marcos. The 23 year old midfielder is reportedly being scouted by Sir Alex Ferguson's brother, Martin Ferguson.

Oscar de Marcos

The Basque playmaker has made 22 appearances for Los Leones this season, with four goals and an assist to his name, and is believed to be a long-time target for the Old Trafford club. In fact, de Marcos came to the Premier League club's attention late last season, after he played a key role in the both legs of the UEFA Europa League knock-out tie between the clubs. United were eliminated after losing both legs.

Oscar is contracted to Bilbao until 2016 and has a £26m release clause but United will be hoping the chance to play with a high-profile club and regular participation in the Champions League will convince the player to move to England.

Bilbao will likely be unhappy at their star player departing, having already lost defensive midfielder Javi Martinez to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the summer, but a fee of about £20m could persuade them to agree to the transfer. The Spanish club will also likely lose striker Fernando Llorente, with another Mirror report listing Arsenal and Serie A champions Juventus among the interested teams.

Should Oscar join United, he will probably be a long-term replacement for either Welshman Ryan Giggs (who celebrated his 39th birthday recently) or 38 year old Paul Scholes. The youngster will join a growing pool of youngsters signed by Ferguson in recent seasons, with the aim of preparing a new generation of stars for the club. United have already signed Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa and Crewe Alexandra's Nick Powell this season, to add to Tom Cleverly and Brazilian midfielder Anderson, as part of the club's future.

Meanwhile, United have also been linked with Kevin Strootman, Dutch club PSV Eindhoven's 22 year old midfielder, and Ferguson has admitted the possibility of Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho replacing him at the club, when he decides to retire, is a distinct one.