Manchester United and Barcelona are on a collision course over talented Serie A star Juan Cuadrado, but the transfer fee demands over him have become ridiculous.
The Mirror claim Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that Louis van Gaal is keen on the Fiorentina wide man, but that Barcelona are also ready to make a move for him. Meanwhile, Catalan publication Sport report that the Camp Nou club have already tabled a bid worth €25million, but have been told it is not even close to being enough to persuade them to sell.
Cuadrado is currently playing for Colombia at the World Cup and was impressive during the 3-0 defeat of Greece in the South American side's opening game of the tournament, but his performances may not be quite enough to convince suitors to pay the reported €40million Fiorentina are asking for him. This is what Sport claim was the reply when Barcelona made their initial bid, which may have something to do with the reported interest out of Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal has been tasked with rebuilding the squad at Old Trafford when he takes over after Holland's World Cup involvement is over and the right hand side is one of the areas many believe will need addressing. Cuadrado can operate as either a full-back or a winger, both positions where current incumbents have failed to provide the consistency required at a club that is aiming to challenge for trophies on all fronts.
Rafael, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have all held the right-back spot at one point or another over the past couple of seasons, but a combination of injuries and poor form have left many unconvinced that any of them can be relied upon long-term in that position. Winger Antonio Valencia was sometimes used as a defender under Sir Alex Ferguson, but the Ecuador international had largely been poor there or his preferred position as a right winger.
Ashley Young and Nani are two more wingers in the Manchester United squad who will be sweating over their futures after both were poor last season, often overlooked by David Moyes. Cuadrado is very quick and a terrific dribbler, so may be able to provide Van Gaal with the penetration from wide ares the squad currently does not posses.
Sport claim that Barcelona see Cuadrado as the long-term replacement for Dani Alves, though his arrival would not necessarily mean the end of the Brazilian's time at Camp Nou. New manager Luis Enrique is very keen on the 26-year-old and is ready to integrate him whether Alves joins PSG after the World Cup or not.
Attacker or defender?
Cuadrado is obviously a very talented player and appears to be something of a late bloomer, as he has really only started to gain recognition outside of Italy in the past two seasons, but Manchester United should seriously be thinking twice about paying anything like the €40million Fiorentina want. Van Gaal will needs a right-back more urgently than a winger and while Cuadrado's attacking prowess is considerable, his defensive duties leave a lot to be desired - so much so that it would be better to not consider him a defender.
It should take too much searching to find a cheaper, equally competent option than the Colombian and Fiorentina's reported asking price sounds a bit lie opportunistic capitalising on a, so far, promising World Cup.