A decision over Xabi Alonso's future at Real Madrid will be made in the next two to three weeks, according to reports, with the midfielder's contract in the Spanish capital set to expire in June.
However, after it seemed as though the Spaniard was set to remain at the Bernabeu, a Premier League return is looking increasingly likely, the Daily Star's Jack Wilson reporting on the matter.
Real have told Alonso, 32, they would like to extend his contract but there have been no negotiations. Sources suggest there has been no talk of contract length or salary - and that Madrid are fearing the worst.
Real are not prepared to put pressure on Alonso, who is well aware there is interest in England.
Alonso's importance to Carlo Ancelotti's cause rose after Sami Khedira picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury while on international duty with Germany in November. Jan Aage Fjortoft confirmed that the former Stuttgart star would be out of action until May at the earliest:
Real Madrid player Khedira out with injury last night. Today confirmed. Serious knee-injury. Out at least 6 months. Via @SkySportNewsHD— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) November 16, 2013
As mentioned in Wilson's report, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United are the main trio of Premier League giants being linked with Alonso, all of whom would be an understandable choice for the central playmaker.
The Liverpool Echo clearly hasn't forgotten the contributions of Liverpool's old fan favourite, either, making sure to wish the 32-year-old some birthday tidings several weeks ago, pondering whether or not a comeback will ever materialise:
With Steven Gerrard turning 34 at the end of the season, another reliable midfield anchor would understandably rank near the top of Brendan Rodgers' priorities in 2014, while David Moyes is another in search of midfield additions.
Speaking in the build-up to the Red Devils' Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk this week, the United boss was quoted by David McDonnell of the Mirror hinting there isn't enough quality in his squad:
The question I got asked was, ‘Is the squad big enough?’ and I said, ‘Yes, the squad is big enough.’ Your question [is the squad good enough] is slightly different. I believe the squad is big enough, yes.
|Phil Jones||4 (in midfield)|
Jose Mourinho worked with Alonso during their time together at Real and the Portuguese has an ageing issue of his own in the engine room, with Frank Lampard entering his twilight years. Alonso would be a canny replacement in terms of playing style, albeit only a few years younger himself.
The veteran midfielder has become a strong staple of Los Merengues for the last four years, making more than 200 appearances for the La Liga giants in all competitions.
However, Alonso is approaching a crossroads in his career and a decision that could be his last as a professional at the top of his game. For lifestyle, Madrid would be the wise option, but for a new challenge, Chelsea must appeal under his former boss.