Athletic Bilbao are attempting to start a bidding war between Manchester United and Chelsea for playmaker Iker Muniain, according to reports.

The 18-year-old, dubbed 'the Basque Wayne Rooney' within the region, has been earning rave reviews in La Liga after starting al seven matches this season for Marcelo Bielsa's outfit.

After securing the player's services with a new contract that includes a €45 million release clause, reports in Spain now claim Los Leones may look to cash-in on their rising star.

The claims, reported by ClubCall, suggest 'Spanish agents' have made Manchester United aware of the player's availability, with the Red Devils thought to have taken notice of the player during Spain's victorious European U21 Championship winners.

Sir Alex Ferguson spent big on bringing young players to Old Trafford this summer, with David de Gea and Phil Jones two big-money purchases for Manchester United in the transfer window.

However, the €45 million fee placed on the teenager's head would mean a mega-money move from Manchester United, and represents a huge gamble given the player's limited experience in major competitions.

A move would also represent a gamble for Chelsea, despite their huge buying power funded by owner Roman Abramovich and proved with the signing of Fernando Torres back in January.

New manager Andre Villas-Boas spent big following his own arrival at Stamford Bridge this summer, bringing youngsters Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata to Chelsea along with a couple of other youth players who are yet to break into the first team.


The former Porto manager's moves suggest a change in focus for the Blues towards building for the future, and whilst Muniain would fit the bill in these terms, the manager would have to consider the financial implications on his Chelsea transfer budget.

Real Madrid and Barcelona would not be willing to chase the player for such a high fee, according to the report, instead highlighting Chelsea and the Red Devils for a possible move.

Should the two clubs go head-to-head, Manchester United could have an advantage with De Gea's reported friendship with the player, although Mata was also involved in Spain's victorious youth triumph this summer and will have a relationship with Muniain that could be utilised by Chelsea.

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