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The Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester United have made Everton midfielder Ross Barkley their No. 1 January transfer priority, and will offer £50 million to ensure both club and player know how serious their interest is.
United's need for additional midfield reinforcement has been well-documented ever since the summer transfer window closed, and it seems David Moyes has decided that Barkley is the player he needs.
However, the MEN warns that there are many likely obstacles to an immediate deal.
The local paper reports:
Roberto Martinez insists that not even a Gareth Bale-sized bid of £86m would be enough to prise the 20-year-old away from Goodison Park—but the Merseysiders are bracing themselves for a host of big-money offers in January.
United—who made a last-ditch attempt to sign Bale before his summer move to Real Madrid—do not want to miss out on another superstar of British football.
They believe a bid of £50m will be enough to get Everton around the negotiating table—but the Premier League champions also know there will be plenty of bridge-building if there is any chance of a deal being done.
Relations are tense between the clubs after United’s clumsy attempts to sign Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines for a cut-price £28m in the summer.
That came after Moyes had already made the switch from Goodison to Old Trafford to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
The bid was described as ‘derisory and insulting’ by Everton at the time, with United eventually having to pay £27.5m for Fellaini in a last gasp deadline day deal.
They do not want to risk antagonising Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright further—but do want to register their interest in English football’s most exciting prospect.
If a move for Barkley proves as problematic as anticipated, the MEN believes that United will pursue other long-term targets—with Ander Herrera, Koke, Wesley Sneijder and Ilkay Gundogan all named as alternative options.