There was escalating noise surrounding the future of Mesut Özil on Saturday morning as Gareth Bale's arrival at the Bernabeu draws ever closer.
It's a noise that feels like it could have legs too.
The Mirror says that Manchester United will bid £30 million for the German international, while the Daily Mail says he has been touted out to various clubs—including the English champions—for a fee close to £38 million.
United fans may feel they've heard this too many times already this summer, not wanting to get their hopes up again, but there are certainly more reasons to believe Özil could arrive at Old Trafford than there ever were for the potential signing of Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas is at his hometown club, which he fought so hard to return to, and Barcelona had no desire to let him leave. Thiago Alcantara's desertion to Bayern Munich was one factor for why they needed to keep him, as well as an aging Xavi and the injury that is currently troubling Lionel Messi—Fabregas seeming to be his deputy—being the other factors.
For Özil the case is less clear-cut.
With the scores level against Real Betis last weekend, Carlo Ancelotti replaced Özil, rather than Isco, in the hope of securing a winner. As he trudged from the pitch, it was easy to tell he was not particularly pleased.
Sky Sports journalist Graham Hunter tweeted on Saturday morning that the 24-year-old is "not happy at [the] threat [of] Isco and Bale to his place." Hunter continued by suggesting that the player's father is actively seeking to place his son in the Premier League—who better than the English champions who have been crying out for a midfielder all summer?
In his column for Bleacher Report on Friday, Guillem Balague also commented that Karim Benzema and Özil were the players most likely to become the biggest losers from Bale's mega-bucks move to the Spanish capital.
"Özil will also be affected, but no-one really knows how as yet. What is certain is that one of the regulars will have to come out of the side to make way for Bale," Balague states.
It's crazy to think, given Özil's status among his teammates and Los Blancos fans, but there are reasons he may feel the need to move.
No player wants to play second fiddle, missing out on the starting lineup in the big games and being handed starts against Almeria at home, especially when it's a World Cup year. Besides, Özil is too good for that role anyway.
German football confirmed it's status alongside, if not above, Spanish and English football last season, and, with players such as Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Thomas Muller and several others, Özil could be forgiven for wondering if he'll fall down the pecking order in the national side ahead of next summer in Brazil.
Despite withdrawing him against Betis, Ancelotti won't want to lose Özil. His squad may be swimming with midfielders, but losing one of the better ones won't be to his pleasing—making his selection problems easier will not be a positive thing because they're positive problems.
However, if Özil and his father are keen to orchestrate a move to the Premier League, if Madrid felt the price was right, in light of the money the BBC say they're about to spend on Bale, then he could prove Manchester United's most realistic midfield target yet.