Real Madrid step up pursuit of Kevin Strootman

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Real Madrid look set to further complicate Manchester United's long-term pursuit of Kevin Strootman, with reports suggesting that the La Liga giants are looking to increase their interest in the Dutch international.

Central midfielder Strootman is said to be one of Louis van Gaal's key targets for the January transfer window, although the Manchester United boss' hopes of completing a deal may have been significantly deflated this week by claims that Roma are unwilling to sell the 24-year-old and, in the event that they have a swift change of heart, would demand approximately £60 million in return.

If that was not enough, the Daily Star - citing speculation from Italy - now say that Real Madrid have stepped up their interest in the player as Carlo Ancelotti seeks to bolster his midfield options after a less than stellar opening to the 2014/15 La Liga campaign.

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Roma form

A known favourite player of Van Gaals dating back to the latter's second spell in charge of his native Netherlands, Strootman has yet to make an appearance for Roma so far this season as he continues to recover from a torn cruciate ligament injury that saw him miss a large chunk of last season as well as the recent World Cup in Brazil.

The Italian outfit - who finished runners-up to reigning champions Juventus last year - have certainly not struggled without their midfield talisman so far this season, however, and Rudi Garcia's men currently sit top of Serie A without having conceded single a goal during consecutive wins over Cagliari, Empoli and Fiorentina.

Roma also made a flying start to life back in the Champions League last Wednesday as a brace from former Arsenal flop Gervinho combined with goals from Juan Manuel Iturbe, experienced full-back Maicon and an unfortunate OG from Sergei Ignashevich handed  the Giallorossi a convincing 5-1 victory against CSKA Moscow.

Supporters at the Stadio Olimpico must be giddy with excitement at the prospect of Strootman coming back into a midfield that has looked very strong indeed of late with the likes of Daniele de Rossi, Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan successfully manning the fort.

Ramires injury

Although the club's slightly underwhelming form, the summer departure of Xabi Alonso to Bayern Munich and the injury woes that continue to afflict Sami Khedira are given as the main reasons for Real's pursuit of Strootman, one can't help but wonder if it also at least partly relates to the current status of Brazilian international Ramires.

The Chelsea midfielder - signed by Carlo Ancelotti during the Italian's reign at Stamford Bridge - has once again been linked with a potential switch to the Santiago Bernabeu recently, although it has been reported that he picked up a knee injury during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City that the Blues fear could leave him set for a lengthy spell on the treatment table.

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Serie A
AS Roma
Kevin Strootman
Manchester United
La Liga
Real Madrid
Premier League

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