Real Madrid have set their sights on Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, with their pursuit of Manchester United’s Paul Pogba yet to gather any real pace.
Pogba expressed a desire to take on a new challenge at the end of last season, after a disappointing year which saw United finish sixth in the Premier League.
Real Madrid has been mooted as his most likely next destination, but the Frenchman has also been linked with a return to Italian giants Juventus, whom he left to re-join the Red Devils back in 2016.
According to Don Balon, Zinedine Zidane still wants to lure Pogba to Santiago Bernabeu, but the Blancos are now plotting a transfer bid for an alternative target.
The Spanish publication states Madrid are interested in Ajax talisman Van de Beek, who could be available for around €60 million, which will surely come as a huge boost to United.
The 22-year-old would cost significantly less than Pogba and he might be open to the prospect of a move to La Liga, especially given the fact Ajax have lost a number of key stars this summer, including Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.
The Dutch champions won a domestic double last term while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League and Van de Beek played a key role.
The Netherlands international contributed 17 goals and 13 assists in 57 appearances across all competitions for Erik ten Hag’s side, emerging as one of the finest midfielders in Europe.
Van de Beek does not yet boast the same glittering CV as Pogba, but he also has the qualities to add an extra dimension to Zidane’s starting line up at the Bernabeu.
Dani Ceballos has been sent out on loan to Arsenal, while Toni Kross and Luka Modric seem to be in steady decline, which leaves Madrid short on options across the middle of the park.
United fans will hope that Van de Beek ends up filling a key position for the Blancos rather than Pogba, who has looked in good form during pre-season and could yet be ready to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team make great strides forward over the next year.