They are stranded in mid-table in La Liga, but Athletic Bilbao’s success in Europe has convinced Manchester United and Manchester City to put some of their stars at the top of their summer shopping lists.
Manchester United got to witness how good the Marcelo Bielsa-led Basque club can be when beaten home and away by them in the Europa League and the Daily Star suspect that the player who impressed them most was Iker Muniain.
The much-hyped 19-year-old, who made his Spain debut earlier this year in a friendly with Venezuela, started both legs against the Premier League leaders and reportedly did enough to convince them to bring him to Old Trafford.
It could prove an expensive task though, given rumours that he is valued at around the £25 million mark, so the Star put forward Lille’s Eden Hazard and Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan as alternative options for the champions.
Rather than compete with their rivals for Muniain, the youngster Manchester City are expected to enquire about if they go buying in Bilbao is another member of Spain’s 2011 European Under-21 Championship winning squad, Ander Herrera.
The 22-year-old midfielder, who The Sun liken to Steven Gerrard, was supposedly watched by Citizens scouts in Athletic’s 2-2 draw away to Granada in midweek, only joined his hometown team from Zaragoza last summer.
However, it is claimed that a £16 million bid may be enough to convince Athletic – whose Europa League and Copa del Rey runs are likely to prompt plenty of interest in their big names – to cash in.
Manchester City meanwhile are in to 7/2 to complete a remarkable turnaround and win the Premier League after all following their 6-1 rout at Norwich to close the gap at the top back down to two points.
It was their first travelling triumph in four and a Carlos Tevez hat-trick and Sergio Aguero brace meant that they scored more goals in one lunchtime than their last ten away days combined.