Transfer speculation surrounding Atletico Madrid playmaker Koke has flown into overdrive this week after David Moyes was spotted watching the Spaniards' 2-0 Champions League win over Porto on Wednesday evening.
The ESPN FC pairing of Dermot Corrigan and Richard Jolly have reported that the Manchester United manager was on hand to watch Atletico, with Koke named as the subject of his attention.
Jolly and Corrigan write:
United would need to pay 20 million euros to prise Koke from Atletico as he has a release clause in his current deal, which runs until 2018, but the playmaker himself insisted after completing the 90 minutes against Porto in a deeper role than usual, that he was unaware of and unmoved by any potential interest from the English giants.
Speaking to Canal Plus after the game, Corrigan and Jolly report the 21-year-old saying: "I did not know anything about it. Neither does it bother me. I signed a new contract last summer.”
From those words, Moyes would appear to have a tough fight on his hands for the player, but the very affordable fee currently placed on Koke's services is bound to ensure rumours intensify over the next six weeks.
Back in September, La Liga expert Graham Hunter appeared on the United We Stand podcast (h/t Mirror) to discuss United's failed moves for Cesc Febregas, Ander Herrera and Thiago Alcantara. As January approaches, it begins to become ever clearer that strengthening in midfield remains the club's highest priority.
According to Squawka, no other Atletico player has created more chances for Los Rojiblancos in La Liga this season, Koke having made 33 scoring chances for the club thus far, Diego Costa his nearest competition with 10 fewer.
It's not just a case of quantity but quality as well, considering eight of those passes have been converted into goals, the joint-highest in La Liga alongside Barcelona's Fabregas.
Although Koke appears content with the way things are, Premier League sides have a knack for bringing in some of Europe's brightest talents often against the odds, United as guilty as any other side in luring top potential like Cristiano Ronaldo and David De Gea.
Although Koke has been fielded out wide for the vast majority of this season, Moyes may have been pleasantly surprised to see his alleged target line up in an anchoring position, showing a versatility that previous United incumbent Sir Alex Ferguson was famously fond of.
The Premier League champions are bound to be one of England's busier names in the coming transfer window, in need of revitalisation after getting off to their worst Premier League start since 1989.
However, the club are no strangers to a revival in the second half of the season, and could be looking at the Atleti starlet as the boost needed to ignite this season's rendition.
Their biggest obstacle will likely be the player's desire to move, particularly with Atletico joint-top of La Liga and into the knockout phase of the Champions League.