Manchester United have opened talks with Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, according to reports in Spain.
As noted by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, the former Liverpool midfielder has caught the eye of United and Chelsea, who are tipped to battle for his signature during the next transfer window:
The Spanish international's contract at current club Real Madrid is set to expire at the end of the season and a lack of speed being implemented over a new deal has seen interest rise.
Chelsea have been monitoring Alonso's situation and former Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is keen to link up again with him at Stamford Bridge.
However according to reports in Spain the Blues will face competition for the 31-year-old's signature from United, who have already opened up discussions with Alonso.
Alonso’s season has been hampered by injury.
The classy midfielder broke his foot during a Madrid training session back in August, reported by Sky Sports. He returned during Los Blancos’ 7-3 win over Sevilla and has made a total of four appearances this campaign, but is yet to last 90 minutes, per WhoScored.com.
However, even during those limited appearances, he has already shown his importance to the Madrid midfield and is arguably Carlo Ancelotti's first choice when fit.
David Moyes has made no qualms about wanting to improve his midfield and looked to Spain for inspiration during a frustrating summer transfer window.
As reported by David Kent of the Daily Mail, the Scotsman's inability to land Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera and Sami Khedira left the Red Devils with no option other than to pay over the odds for Marouane Fellaini, who has struggled to assert himself at Old Trafford.
Alonso’s sense of control, fine passing skills and ability to break up play would be welcome at the Theatre of Dreams, but his transfer seems highly unlikely.
The Spaniard was part of the Liverpool side that completed a remarkable comeback in the 2005 Champions League final, where he missed a penalty and converted the rebound. He also captured the UEFA Super Cup that year and helped the Merseyside club to victories in the FA Cup and Community Shield the following season.
Alonso would almost certainly shatter his Anfield image if he decided to don the red of their fierce rivals.
Which club should Xabi Alonso look to play for next season?
Chelsea appears a more likely destination, especially as Alonso has worked with Mourinho before.
He was an important part of the Madrid side that won the La Liga title in 2011-12 and may fancy another stint under the only manager who has brought him silverware at the Bernabeu.
Lustig's report suggests Alonso's preference is to remain in Madrid, and Ancelotti's desire to play increasingly quick, high-tempo football will suit the Spaniard's passing range at the heart of Madrid's midfield.
It is likely he will only seek a move if contract talks continue to advance at a slow pace. However, with United facing the prospect of six weeks without Michael Carrick—per Dominic Fifield of The Guardian—Moyes will surely test Alonso's loyalty.