Torino president Urbano Cairo has praised reported Manchester United and Chelsea target Andrea Belotti for staying grounded amid interest from esteemed European clubs and revealed that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez's "ears perked up" when he informed him of the forward's €100m (£89.4m, $117.2m) release clause.
Belotti has established himself as one of the most prolific centre-forwards in Europe in recent seasons, and his return of 26 goals and seven assists in 35 Serie A appearances predictably led to interest from a host of clubs.
United were interested in the Italy international and reportedly approached Torino over their prized asset in the summer before recruiting Romelu Lukaku, while Chelsea were also said to be monitoring the 23-year-old before they signed Alvaro Morata from Real. The Spanish giants now look light in the centre-forward department after failing to replace Morata and Mariano Diaz, who left the Champions League holders for Ligue 1 outfit Lyon.
Lukaku and Morata have both enjoyed positive starts to their respective United and Chelsea careers, but Real boss Zinedine Zidane has made clear of his desire to bring in a new striker in the coming months, with concerns over the fitness of the fabled 'BBC'.
Belotti would be a heavily expensive but eminently possible purchase for Real, who have designs on building a squad dominated by Spaniards in the coming years, and Torino president Cairo revealed that Madrid chief Perez seemed interested in the former Palermo hitman after learning of his eye-watering release clause, which cannot be activated by Italian clubs.
"Belotti's an exceptional guy and loved by everyone," he told Gazzetta dello Sport, relayed by Football365. "He's kept his feet on the ground and he's humble, even though he has a €100million release clause on his shoulders.
"He needs to stay calm, he said he didn't think about it at the time of his renewal. He scored 13 goals either side of last season, with and without a clause.
"I went to dinner with Florentino Perez and talked to him about the renewal of players with huge clauses.
"I mentioned Belotti and he didn't know him, but I talked about shielding him with a €100million release clause. Aware of his clause, his ears perked up. If it had been for €20million, they wouldn't have."
Belotti has not started the current campaign in blistering fashion; he has scored three goals in nine league appearances for Torino with his supply line limited by the loss of Davide Zappacosta, who joined Chelsea on transfer deadline day.
'The Rooster' is not the only Serie A forward that Manchester United have been monitoring in recent months; Jose Mourinho's side also hold an interest in Napoli forward Dries Mertens, who confirmed he would be open to moving to England last week.