Manchester United are planning to submit a £23.5 million bid for Benfica midfielder Enzo Perez when the transfer window re-opens in January.
This would trigger the Argentina international’s release clause and allow the Red Devils to open talks with the 28-year-old, who is also wanted by La Liga outfit Valencia.
Perez was strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford during the summer, but a move failed to materialise after the player agreed to sign a new four-year deal at the Estadio da Luz.
Di Maria and Rojo could tempt Perez
However, the Express claim that Perez inserted the £23.5 million release clause into his contract following an agreement with Benfica - and this means Manchester United stand an excellent chance of signing the player in January by submitting a bid of the same value.
United boss Louis van Gaal is a fan of Perez, and would look to deploy him on the right-hand side of his diamond formation. The veteran Dutch coach will also hope that the presence of Angel di Maria and Marcos Rojo will tempt the South American to Old Trafford rather than the Mestalla or elsewhere.
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Competition for places
Van Gaal, though, might have a difficult job on his hands convincing Perez to sign for the Red Devils, who are currently tenth in the Premier League table.
United are not in the Champions League or Europa League, but competition for midfield places remains strong. The 20-time England champions spent £29 million on Ander Herrera in the summer, while defensive midfielder Daley Blind arrived from Ajax.
Furthermore, Michael Carrick has now made his return from injury, and Marouane Fellaini’s recent performances suggest he still has a future at Old Trafford following a difficult debut season with the Premier League giants.
Perez, therefore, and despite his qualities as a central midfielder and his price tag, would not necessary be guaranteed a regular first-team place.
Manchester United remain an attractive proposition for overseas players because of their history, prestige and, of course, their ability to hand out big wages.
Perez turns 29 in February and will be acutely aware this could be his final opportunity to land a monster contract from one of Europe’s top clubs.
Subsequently, confidence in the United camp that a deal will be wrapped up in January should be high.