Manchester United are raising their interest in Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez after he confirmed Real Madrid haven't made a move for his services. Meanwhile, a £40 million offer for Romelu Lukaku is allegedly in the offing.
According to German newspaper Bild, the Red Devils are set to get serious in their pursuit of the Switzerland international as they hope to stem the tide of injuries at Old Trafford (h/t James Cambridge of the Daily Express).
United manager Louis van Gaal lost Luke Shaw to a leg break earlier this season, and Rodriguez was linked as one of the potential targets who could replace the Englishman.
According to Cambridge's report, Rodriguez would set Manchester United back around £30 million, and despite rumours of competition from Los Merengues, the defender said Real are yet to make contact for a deal:
I've not heard from Real, I don't know if there's anything in it. Even my manager has said nothing to me, so there is nothing new.
I thought my performance in the first half [of the season] was not too bad, but I can do better. Right now I'm symptom-free. Now is the time to get fit and there are only six points to the Champions League spots.
The 23-year-old has long been regarded as one of the Bundesliga's finest full-backs and was voted 2014 Swiss Footballer of the Year.
Rodriguez has shown a capacity to get forward and recorded a career-best 10 goals across all competitions last season, an impressive tally for a defender. The Mirror's Liam Canning has backed United to go after his services:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
This January Man United should be focussing on a left-back (Ricardo Rodríguez) and an attacking playmaker (Sadio Mané, Riyad Mahrez).2015-12-29 13:10:57
In Shaw's absence, Van Gaal has resorted to using Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at left-back, but none have managed to match the standards set by their sidelined team-mate.
At the other end of the pitch, United are ready to test Everton with a £40 million bid for Lukaku this summer, according to the Mirror's David McDonnell.
The report stated that while Van Gaal declined making any concrete move for Lukaku over the summer, he will move for the Belgian in 2016 as part of a "huge summer spending spree."
Lukaku is proving his worth as one of Europe's in-form strikers after scoring 19 goals in 25 games across all competitions, and Unibet recently celebrated his sterling progress in front of goal:
We are still celebrating #Lukaku here! Can he drive #EFC to the #CapitalOneCup final in Leg 2? https://t.co/8A6pGDiuM02016-1-7 14:27:08
United signed Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay to beef up their attack over the summer, but neither player possesses the same power as Lukaku, who moved to Everton in 2014 for a fee of £28 million.
The Red Devils have felt the departures of Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez up front. But the Daily Mail's Dominic King provided quotes from Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, who insisted there will be no verbal agreements made with his players as United circle the signatures of Lukaku and John Stones:
I would never do that. I think that would be very negative. If you do that could you imagine the last two months for that player? He would never put a leg in or never challenge for the ball.
I don't agree with doing that, I know you can do that to keep a player for another 12 months but if you're not going to have a player 12 months down the line you need to start replacing him to have a stronger team.
James Robson of the Manchester Evening News recently claimed Van Gaal "must win" the race for Stones and pair him alongside England team-mate Chris Smalling, but Everton will prove difficult negotiators.
Tempting either of Everton's top, young assets from Goodison Park will be testing, but the rewards could be just as great as two of the Premier League's brightest talents continue their rise on Merseyside.