Manchester United's hopes of signing Arturo Vidal may be quashed with the news that Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is ready to build his new-look squad around the Chilean star.
That's the thinking of Tuttosport, who ran a story detailing Vidal's increasing responsibility in Turin. As translated by 101 Great Goals, the Old Lady's "secret plan" is "to hand over the keys" to Vidal, who will act as the focal point of Allegri's squad.
Although barely a secret if you've regularly watched Juventus over the past couple of seasons—Vidal already runs things through the centre with his energetic, ambitious style—such a ploy could convince the 27-year-old to remain in Serie A.
Football writer David Amoyal also indicates another blow for United when highlighting Vidal recently joined Juventus' preseason plans in Indonesia:
It certainly would be a wasted exercise for Juve and Vidal if the player is flown to Jakarta before heading directly to England. Rumours have continued to ramp up throughout the summer, but the only concrete pieces of information we have indicate a transfer was never even on.
Allegri previously confirmed the midfielder is "fundamental" to his team and "happy to stay," leaving United with an uphill battle that begins with dropping a major sum, per Paul Hirst of the Irish Examiner.
Louis van Gaal is due to assess his transfer plans in the coming week, reported by the Telegraph's Mark Ogden. United's triumphant run through the International Champions Cup highlighted a squad who are willing to work hard under the Dutchman, but could certainly do with some improvements.
Most notably, the midfield and defence were lacking important aspects that could get exploited over the course of a season. Vidal's boundless, box-to-box energy isn't replicated in the current side, nor is his ability to score outrageous goals from the centre.
United don't have a powerful tackler who can quickly increase his stride to offer the team a turn of pace in possession, despite the best efforts of Darren Fletcher during preseason. Ander Herrera is already fitting in a treat, but he needs a physical teammate alongside him to dictate possession.
Vidal's defensive prowess would also aid a centre-back trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, who struggled during the ICC final victory over Liverpool. The trio lack pace and ability on the ball, making United's passing across the back appear unnatural. Vidal can drop to recover the ball and distribute accordingly.
Instead of landing an individual who could define the way United play, the Red Devils may be tempted to offload Shinji Kagawa, whose poor 2013-14 showing perhaps defined United's season.
Steve Brenner of the Guardian believes Atletico Madrid want to sign Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez, but both players have given themselves a fighting chance of remaining at the club after posting decent preseasons. Kagawa played a stunning assist to Chicharito during the recent win over Real Madrid, while both have appeared confident in Van Gaal's hard-working 3-5-2 setup.
This is a formation Antonio Conte regularly deployed during his spell with Juventus, meaning Vidal would slot right into United's plans.
Former Bianconeri defender Robert Jarni said the Chilean was "the wheel that turned everything" last season in such a lineup, reported by Ante Buskulic of Goal.com. If Allegri can ensure Vidal is afforded this type of responsibility once more, it is difficult to believe the midfielder will leave the Champions League side.
United face an embarrassing turn of events if the player doesn't arrive. While the club are yet to publicly acknowledge their interest in Vidal, the speculation could have been halted weeks ago if it turns out he was never a legitimate target.
Many fans have dwelt on the possibility of such a world-class performer heading to Old Trafford, providing this summer's saga with the likelihood of repeating last season's no show from Cesc Fabregas.