After growing increasingly frustrated with ever-changing demands for Luka Modric, Sir Alex Ferguson is set to turn his attentions to Portugal in the hope of landing a playmaker.
The legendary Manchester United boss had hoped to bring in Tottenham’s Modric, and a £25m deal looked all but completed less than a month ago.
However, massive wage demands from the Croatian, along with Spurs’ reluctance to sell for less than £40m put a spanner in the works.
Still determined to land a long-term successor to Paul Scholes though, Ferguson is ready to return to a nation he has had success signing from before, with the additions of Nani, and, in particular, Cristiano Ronaldo.
High on his wishlist this summer are Benfica’s Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, and Porto star Joao Moutinho, who impressed greatly during Portugal’s run to the Euro 2012 semi-finals.
Witsel first caught the eye of Ferguson last season, when he contributed greatly to dumping Manchester United out of the Champions League in the group stage, starring in both of Benfica’s stalemates with the Red Devils.
Benfica are now prepared to cash in on one of their star assets, providing they receive a fee in the region of £20m for his services.
That would be affordable to Sir Alex, but they could face competition from Chelsea for his signature, and may struggle to match the wages the Blues can offer the 23-year-old.
Therefore, a move for Moutinho may be more preferable for Ferguson, with the £25m he had set aside to sign Modric enough to convince Porto to do business.
Soon-to-be-confirmed Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has also declared an admiration for the player, and the feeling is mutual after the pair worked together at Porto.
The 25-year-old is encouraged by the career paths his fellow countrymen Ronaldo and Nani have taken since signing at Old Trafford though, and would preference a move to United over anywhere else.