Louis van Gaal is reportedly the 'driving force' behind Manchester United leading a five-club race for Brazil star Luiz Gustavo, with Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona and AS Monaco the other clubs circling.
According to German publication Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, Wolfsburg have been having contact regarding a possible deal for the Brazil international from the Premier League trio and the two big-spending European giants, but have been directing them towards a clause in his contract setting his price this summer to €25million.
Van Gaal favourite
It also claims that Van Gaal is driving Manchester United's interest because Gustavo is a favourite player of his and he was the man to take him to Bayern Munich from Hoffenheim in 2011.
However, the Dutch coach will most likely to fight off both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho to the signing of the 26-year-old, as the report claims Arsenal and Chelsea are the two clubs most likely to challenge for his signature.
Barcelona are also interested in landing the talented defensive midfielder, but the report claims they have made it clear they are unwilling to pay the full fee to activate the buyout clause. New manager at Camp Nou, Luis Enrique, is undertaking a major overhaul of the squad and Gustavo has been highlighted as a possible addition to strengthen midfield.
Van Gaal is another new manager that has been given a mandate for rebuilding and will begin his duties with Manchester United once his obligations as manager of the Netherlands are over after the World Cup in Brazil.
Meanwhile, Wenger's interest is not so much of a surprise as Arsenal were reportedly in for him last summer when he made the switch from Bayern to Wolfsburg. The French tactician has no need for major transfer movements this summer, but a mobile defensive midfielder is one addition that is required.
Mourinho is in a similar situation at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea have already secured the transfer of former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas after legend Frank Lampard was released, but may need to replace John Obi Mikel. The Nigerian has been linked with a switch to Inter Milan this summer after spending most of last season sitting on the bench after Mourinho's arrival.
If any of Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are ready to make their interest concrete, they do not have a great deal of time to get it completed. The report claims that the clause in Gustavo's deal expires at the end of July, presumably placed in there so that Vfl have sufficient time to arrange for a replacement.
He is currently putting in some stellar performances for Brazil at the World Cup and the hosts look as though they could go far, which is troubling his advisors. If Neymar can inspire the Seleção to a fairy tale title, then Gustavo would only have two or three weeks to negotiate any deal and make a decision.
Worth the effort
It is no surprise that a manager the calibre of Van Gaal is after Gustavo, as he has shown in his displays for Brazil this summer that he can be a combative, yet calming, presence at the base of midfield.
Not only is he a terrific tackler, his movement is intelligent, he is quick, strong and has shown he has the timing and vision to burst forward and support the attack at crucial moments - see his part in Brazil's first goal against Cameroon. He may have a questionable disciplinary record - he was sent off three times last season - but he is a player that would strengthen any of Premier League clubs mentioned.
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