Manchester United have been told by the agent of AS Monaco playmaker James Rodriguez that they must pay over £45 million to sign his client this summer. However, Aytekin Erayabakan hinted that the Red Devils are interested after revealing that Real Madrid and Barcelona are not the only clubs keen to sign the Colombian superstar.
"I can assure you that Real Madrid and Barcelona are not the only clubs who want him" Erayabakan told L'Equipe. "There are, of course, Napoli, but I do not want to mention names.
"I'll shut up now. In recent seasons, his value has skyrocketed, so if someone wants to take him from Monaco, they must spend upwards of £45m."
Can United afford £45m?
New United boss Louis van Gaal has already spent £56 million this summer on the acquisitions of midfielder Ander Herrera and left-back Luke Shaw, but still has significant funds available to further strengthen his squad ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
More arrivals are expected, but whether Van Gaal is prepared to spend around £50 million on another, albeit world-class, playmaker is highly doubtful. The veteran Dutch coach has several top number 10s at his disposal already, including Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa. Adnan Januzaj, meanwhile, is also tipped to establish himself as a playmaker rather than a winger in the near future.
James keen on Real Madrid
Shortly after Colombia beat Uruguay in the last 16 of the World Cup finals in Brazil - a match which saw Rodriguez score a brace, including a goal of the tournament contender - the gifted playmaker told reporters that he preferred Real Madrid over Barcelona.
The player's dad then confirmed his son's desire to play for the reigning European champions, telling reporters: "Since he was very little he was saying he wanted to play professionally in Spain because it is similar to Colombian football, with great technique.
"They have players such as Ronaldo. For the style of football, he prefers Real Madrid.
"[James] aspires to achieve great things. Zidane was his idol when he was playing for Real Madrid."
Whether he has any affection for Manchester United is unclear, but the South American appears to have his heart set on a move to the Bernabeu.
James Rodriguez: Scout report
Real Madrid to offload Di Maria in order to sign James?
Reports suggest that Real Madrid are keen to sell Angel di Maria in order to free up the required funds to sign Rodriguez. The Argentina international has enjoyed a superb campaign with Los Blancos, but feels undervalued at the Bernabeu and is believed to be keen to leave the club.
Di Maria himself has been linked with a move to Old Trafford - and the possibility of the Red Devils turning their attention to the 26-year-old winger, if it's made clear Rodriguez has no desire to move to Manchester, can't be ruled out at this stage.
Real Madrid set to sign Toni Kroos
However, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti may struggle to find room in his best starting line-up for both Rodriguez and Germany international Toni Kroos, who is poised to become the Spanish giants' next Galactico.
The Bayern Munich star will complete a €25 million move to the Bernabeu this summer, according to Marca, but plays in a similar position to Rodriguez.
However, stiff competition for places has never stopped Real Madrid signing a world-class player in the past, and they aren't about to suddenly change tack now.