Manchester United remain in the hunt for midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has revealed he will not be rushing to sign an extension to his contract with Borussia Dortmund.
Negotiations over a new deal were put on hold after Gundogan sustained a back injury at the start of the season, but a return to fitness hasn't brought about the extension that Jurgen Klopp's side may have been hoping for.
According to German magazine Sport Bild (h/t Chris Wheeler and Simon Jones of the Daily Mail), the 23-year-old is quoted saying:
It’s still really open. Dortmund are my first point of contact. I will make a considered decision soon but I am keeping my options open at this point.
Borussia Dortmund have not set me an ultimatum. I’m just trying to be healthy and to get back on the pitch.
It's news that will go down well at Old Trafford, with David Moyes currently searching for quality midfield talent but struggling to find the right options in the January market.
According to the Mail article, the Red Devils are set to fight Real Madrid for the £25 million purchase of Gundogan's signature.
Gundogan's Dortmund exit would be another disappointing twist for the German club this month, weeks after BBC Sport announced Robert Lewandowski had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Bayern Munich on a free transfer this summer.
What would be the best option for Manchester United?
The anchor's deal with the Black and Yellows is set to expire in just under 18 months, meaning Dortmund could be forced to cash in should Gundogan wish to jump ship, rather than risk losing another of their stars for nothing.
In terms of the player that Moyes is in need of, Gundogan ticks the boxes as a tough-tackling midfielder who possesses a certain nuance moving forward with the ball.
Although the player's one Bundesliga outing this term doesn't offer a great deal for analysis, last season the German international won 51 of his 64 attempted tackles while maintaining a passing accuracy of 87 percent, per Squawka.
CNN's Tancredi Palmeri claims Barcelona are also showing interest in the player, and he believes that it's Gerardo Martino who will win the race for his services:
Barcelona had several meetings with Gundogan's entourage in the last days, according to Bild— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 16, 2014
I think Barcelona will just go all the way for Gundogan— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 15, 2014
Gundogan is yet to make his Bundesliga return from injury, and it's possible that a lack of fitness could harm the chances of a January departure.
Nevertheless, in a time of year that's notoriously difficult for luring Europe's top talent, United would be wise to chase a deal for the Dortmund star, who clearly is not 100 percent certain over his future in Germany.