Athletic Bilbao duo finally on brink of departure, but not to Man Utd

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Manchester United can count Fernando Llorente and Javi Martinez as leading transfer targets this summer, but are set to miss out on both of the Spaniards.

It is 5/2 that Manchester United win the Premier League this season and the arrival of Martinez would have proved a valuable acquisition.

Martinez’ defensive-mindedness would have sat perfectly alongside the attacking instincts of Shinji Kagawa and there would have still be the option to play one of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Paul Scholes in a midfield trio.

However, with Bilbao holding out for the best price for Martinez, this restricted offers from both Barcelona and Manchester United.

Bayern Munich have not been put off though and have reportedly made a €33m offer, which if accepted would give them a formidable central midfield with Bastien Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos.

And the bad news is set to continue for the Red Devils as Juventus look likely to win the race to sign Fernando Llorente.

Llorente’s representatives told Bilbao president Jose Urratia last week that he would not be extending his current contract, which expires June 2013.

Bilbao are not typically a team to sell their assets and so will not be amused at having to lose their two star names in the same summer.

But they are again holding out for top dollar for Llorente, with his release clause set at €36m.

Manchester United and Juventus both have Robin Van Persie and Llorente on their shortlist and the Italian champions now seem to have prioritised the Spaniard to lead their line.

This could open the door for Manchester United to be the sole chasers of Van Persie, but whether Arsene Wenger would allow his chief goal-getter to join one of the club’s biggest rivals still seems unlikely to me.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.