Manchester United are closely monitoring Real Betis midfielder Benat as a potential successor to Paul Scholes, according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport.
In a country full of technically gifted midfielders, Benat, 24, is highly-rated, particularly by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. The former Atheltic Bilbao man started Spain’s last match, a friendly against Panama, and is believed to be seen as an alternative for Xavi going forward to the 2014 World Cup.
Benat has been strongly linked to Chelsea of late so United may have to act fast if they are to secure the playmaker. However, it looks all-but certain that he will remain at Betis until the end of the season. Despite the player having just 18 months remaining on his contract, Betis coach Pepe Mel has said that he will not be allowed to leave for less than his release clause.
“Benat’s clause is €20 million (£16.5m) and he will only leave for €20 million,” Mel said, according to ESPN. “To sell him for anything less would be a disaster. The club must defend its position and Benat knows that. To be able to go the market and find a replacement, the only number is €20 million. He has one more year left on his contract and he can fulfill that.”
Manchester United have also been linked this week with a more defensively-minded midfielder in the form of Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender. According to the Daily Express, United are one of a number of big European clubs chasing Bender.
The 23-year-old has established himself as a tenacious presence in Leverkusen’s midfield and has the qualities that may well complement United’s current midfield options. The former 1860 Munich player is also versatile as he showed for Germany in Euro 2012 when he played at right-back during the group match with Denmark.
Citing a story in Spain, the Express reports that Bender—whose brother Sven plays for Borussia Dortmund—will cost at least £12 million.
Despite reports linking Manchester United to Rayo Vallecano forward Leo Baptistao earlier this week, it appears that the Brazilian will be heading for Atletico Madrid.
Spanish publication AS claims that Atletico have been in discussions with Rayo and the two clubs are now close to reaching a deal that will see Baptistao move to the Vicente Calderon in the summer. It is believed that the 20-year-old will cost between €4 million (£3.3m) and €6 million (£4.9m).
There have also been stories that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is after a goalkeeper to replace David de Gea. However, one of the stoppers linked with a move, Asmir Begovic, has said that he is in no rush to leave Stoke.
“It’s positive and flattering to have interest and big clubs watching me and obviously I must be doing something right,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “It doesn't count for anything if I don’t keep it going. I've got a long-term contract here and if the situation arises that remains to be seen. We’re on the same page and of course I am happy to stay.”