Manchester United and Chelsea hopes of signing Toni Kroos have taken a blow after it was revealed that another major rival from La Liga are lining up an offer for him this summer transfer window.
According to the Daily Star, the Old Tafford and Stamford Bridge clubs will now have to fight off Barcelona as well as Real Madrid if they want to sign the Bayern Munich midfielder, as the Catalans see him as the perfect replacement for legend Xavi. The veteran midfielder looks set to leave Camp Nou this summer after it was claimed he had agreed to join Qatari club Al Arabi.
The report claims Kroos is a favourite of incoming Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal and that the two have a very good relationship after the Dutch coach gave him his debut at Bayern. Van Gaal is reportedly set to embark on a major rebuilding process when he finally takes over at Old Trafford once his duties as Netherlands manager at the World Cup 2014 are concluded.
Kroos is also in Brazil, with the Germany national team, and has been exemplifying why prestigious clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid are after him. He has been showing for the last couple of seasons why he would be perfect for a team such as the Red Devils, who have lacked an effective deep-lying playmaker since the retirement of the great Paul Scholes.
However, Manchester United are reportedly on the verge of completing the €36million signing of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera. This could be a signal that one of the other three teams mentioned have already made a decisive move in the chase for Kroos.
Mourinho still interested
Despite already signing Cesc Fabregas for £27million from Camp Nou this summer, the report claims Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho would still like to see Kroos join them after the World Cup. Fabregas was billed as the natural successor to Xavi, but he has been allowed to leave in the overhaul of the squad under new manager Luis Enrique.
Chelsea have released club legend Frank Lampard this summer after deciding not to renew his contract and Fabregas has been seen as the England veteran's direct replacement. However, there has been much speculation over the Stamford Bridge future of John Obi Mikel this summer and Mourinho would likely need another player to play a similar role if the Nigerian were to leave.
Seeing the likes of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Xavi leave this summer after a season where the Barcelona squad looked tired as they failed to win a trophy, it is hard to see it as anything other than the end of an are. A glorious era, but fitness worries and the fading of their effectiveness would suggest the Catalan board have timed their rebuild right.
They have already replaced Valdes with promising young German Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the arrival of his compatriot to replace Xavi would be a shrewd move. Kroos has a terrific passing range, moves intelligently around the pitch and, possibly most importantly, is calm when under pressure in possession - attributes that make him perfect for the Barcelona system.
While the prestige of Real Madrid and Barcelona are difficult enough to compete with, the report claims Manchester United and Chelsea will have to match the wages on offer at the Santiago Bernabeu - a whopping £4million per year.
That is serious money for the Premier League duo, but both must be prepared to get involved in a pricey bidding war if there is even a sniff of a chance to sign Kroos.
The 24-year-old has fallen out with Bayern over contract negotiations and there is a good chance he will be leaving the Allianz Arena in the near future - Van Gaal and Mourinho must try and be at the front of that queue to capitalise.