Barcelona join hunt for Manchester United target but €60m release clause will be major obstacle

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Sporting Clube de Portugal starlet Gelson Martins is reportedly continuing to attract interest, with Barcelona now also being linked with making a move for him.

The 21-year-old has been in impressive form so far this season, recording two goals and six assists in nine appearances so far, and particularly impressed in an appearance against Real Madrid in the Champions League last month.

Record noted a fortnight or so ago that United had been alerted by that display against Real, and in turn had begun to monitor him with a view of making a move next year.

However, a new report from Record, which includes quotes from Barca’s international director of sports Ariedo Braida, reveals that the Catalan giants have sent scouts to Portugal to keep an eye on his progress.

“He’s a young player with a lot of talent who Barcelona are observing and will continue to observe,” Braida said. “We have reports on various players and Gelson is one of them.

“A January signing? No. We’re just watching him. We’ve not even spoken with anyone about Gelson.”

It’s added in the report from Record that Gelson signed a new contract last year which keeps him at Sporting until 2021 and has a €60m release clause included in it.

In turn, it will require a significant investment from one of the interested parties if they have genuine interest in signing the talented winger, with Sporting in a strong position to keep hold of their starlet given the length of time his current deal still has to run.

Meeting the €60m release clause will require a lot of faith in Gelson’s ability, and so perhaps it would be no surprise if the clubs in question continued to wait to see how he improves.

Given the number of attacking options that Luis Enrique has at his disposal at this stage with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Paco Alcacer, it’s unlikely that they’ll be a major rush to sign Gelson, but evidently based on Braida’s assessment, they will be keeping a close eye on him to monitor his development.

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