Bayern Munich have joined the race to sign Angel di Maria, seemingly dealing a further blow to Manchester United's optimistic hopes of signing the Argentine international.
According to reports from Spain cited by The Daily Star, the reigning Bundesliga champions appear set to launch a move for Di Maria, with Bayern boss Pep Guardiola having seemingly identified the Real Madrid midfielder as potential replacement for the recently-departed figure of Toni Kroos.
World Cup winner Kroos left the Allianz Arena for Madrid earlier this month, reducing the strength of Bayern's tremendously strong midfield unit in the process.
Los Blancos' subsequent capture of Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez - a man who boosted his reputation considerably following a truly excellent campaign in Brazil with his native Colombia - further increased speculation involving a possible exit for Di Maria as well as teammate Sami Khedira.
Manchester United concern
The Bavarians' interest in Di Maria is likely to concern both Manchester United and French champions Paris Saint-Germain, with those two clubs having been almost exclusively linked with the £40 million-rated star's signature throughout the summer transfer window so far.
While PSG's attempts to sign the former Benfica winger are complicated by their wish and need to comply with Financial Fair Play laws, Manchester United - who have made two permanent signings so far this summer in the form of Spaniard Ander Herrera and England defender Luke Shaw - obviously have huge sums available to spend on whoever new manager Louis van Gaal sees fit.
To his credit, since arriving at Old Trafford Van Gaal has continually stressed the need to take the necessary time to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and capabilities of his existing squad members prior to making any further moves in the transfer market.
While a central defender may indeed be his priority in the future, Di Maria - who had an indifferent World Cup but proved his worth with a fabulous performance for Real Madrid in last season's Champions League final victory over local rivals Atletico - is an exceptional talent who could certainly help to propel Manchester United back into the title race.
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Were Bayern - along with both Manchester United and PSG - to go forth and submit an official offer for Di Maria's services, it would presumably leave him with an extremely tough decision to make.
While the former are no longer the reigning kings of Europe, Bayern remain utterly dominant domestically and the opportunity to work with such a popular and revered coach in Guardiola would surely be difficult to reject.
PSG, meanwhile, certainly have the funds and the quality to continue to win major silverware of their own, although it remains to be seen if Real Madrid would be content with an initial loan move.
Lastly, Manchester United's dreadful 2013/14 campaign under the disastrous reign of David Moyes - which led to a failure to qualify for the Champions League - undoubtedly will have done some damage to the club's credibility and reputation in the eyes of such high-profile transfer targets.
However, the club certainly appear to be making good progress during the very early stages of Van Gaal's reign and Di Maria will be aware that such an absence from Europe's elite club competition should only last for one solitary season.