Barcelona will reportedly turn their attention to rivals Real Madrid and look to trigger Marco Asensio's release clause as part of a shock twist in their efforts to replace Neymar. Meanwhile, Manchester United are said to have failed in their bid to sign Los Blancos youngster Miguel Gutierrez.
According to Spanish outlet Diario Gol (h/t The Sun's Jake Lambourne), Barca are prepared to trigger Asensio's £72 million release clause after being frustrated in their efforts to land Liverpool dynamo Philippe Coutinho.
The Reds ace has been the subject of a £90 million bid from manager Ernesto Valverde's side, but the Reds have so far resisted Barca's crusade to recruit another superstar following Neymar's £200 million move to Paris Saint-Germain.
However, Barca face a tough battle to not only tempt Real to negotiate Asensio's exit but also convince the player himself to leave, with Marca recently suggesting he could one day replace Gareth Bale, via Football Espana:
Marca: Marco Asensio to replace Gareth Bale is ZZ's toughest decision for #RMCF; Griezmann's 200m release clause https://t.co/l3nq5qnFCE https://t.co/dhs0J8zQ1V2017-8-2 07:33:09
Barca could be stumped in their efforts to land Asensio, too, after Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo (h/t The Sun's Andrew Richardson) reported they want to hand him a new deal complete with a £136 million release clause.
Much of the appeal in Asensio, 21, is that he would be a cheaper alternative to Coutinho, although that wouldn't be the case if Real convince him to pen the new terms.
Rated as one of the best youngsters in La Liga, Asensio already boasts a glittering array of trophies, per the UEFA Champions League:
Champions League @ChampionsLeague
Asensio at 21... UEFA #SuperCup 🏆🏆 Champions League 🏆 Liga 🏆 FIFA Club World Cup 🏆 #LaysUnited https://t.co/oBjDDEftGB2017-8-8 22:14:07
Real manager Zinedine Zidane is gradually starting to hand the starlet more first-team responsibilities at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but Barca would likely look to hand him more starting chances after Neymar's departure.
Any player would struggle to leave a club that has won three of the last four Champions Leagues, however, and Yahoo's Andrew Gaffney recently suggested Asensio is seen as a future headliner in Madrid:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
@Sevilla_Spurs Nah, if Bale is next is line to go that means the right-hand side is all Isco's. Mbappe/Benzema, Asensio/Cristiano, Isco.2017-8-3 15:41:27
The winger started in 19 of his 38 total appearances last season, scoring 10 goals and recording four assists in the process, acclimating to the pace of Real's first team well in his first senior campaign.
It's rare for transfers between archrivals Barcelona and Real to materialise, and one should think this case will be no different, unless the Catalans trigger Asensio's release clause and he pushes for the move.
From one Real prodigy to another, Diario Gol (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) reported United manager and former Los Blancos chief Jose Mourinho failed in an attempt to sign 16-year-old defender Gutierrez.
The Juvenil B player appears to have given a conclusive answer to the Red Devils boss, too, as it's said he "told Mourinho to forget about pursuing him," leaving the Portuguese to look for alternative targets.