Manchester United have reportedly been informed that Spanish giants Real Madrid are putting a package into place to sign Wayne Rooney after identifying the England forward as a more realistic target than Sergio Agüero.
While David Moyes remains determined to keep Rooney at Old Trafford for the forseeable future, there is growing concern that this may be the 28-year-old's final season at United.
Madrid, on the other hand, are confident that the unsettled former Everton striker can be prized away from his £220,000-a-week deal - the Daily Telegraph reports.
Rooney has failed to sign a new deal with the current English champions and is likely to have grown disillusioned with United's poor form.
Under Moyes the Red Devils have slipped out of the FA Cup in the third round, lie fourteen points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal and are 2-1 behind in their two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final clash with strugglers Sunderland.
The option of leaving for the Spanish climate and joining former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabéu Stadium may prove too tempting.
Manchester City's fourteen-goal forward Agüero, having courted the Argentine since his successful spell with title-rivals Atlético, remains Real's primary target but there are doubts in the Spanish capital that a deal can be struck.
If moves for both Rooney and Agüero do indeed fail it is believed that Carlo Ancelotti will then turn his attentions back towards Liverpool's Luis Suárez who the club failed to sign last summer.
Suárez's decision to commit to a four-and-a-half-year contract at Anfield last month has complicated matters, however, and it could prove even more troublesome to lure the Uruguayan should the Reds successfully return to the Champions League this term.
With Frenchman Karim Benzema the only recognised centre-forward in the Real squad, the club are determined to bolster their firepower over the coming months.
Planning ahead for a possible failure to reach the European places this May, United are already preparing how they will attempt to persuade their elite players to stay for a Europa League future next season.
What are the biggest January transfers yet to happen?
What are the biggest January transfers yet to happen?
1/8 Tom Ince to Monaco, £10m
Monaco are leading the race to sign Blackpool winger Tom Ince according to reports. The England U21 international was reportedly driven by his father, Blackpool boss Paul Ince, to a meeting with representatives of the French club in London. The Blackpool boss cancelled a press conference ahead of his side's match with Barnsley earlier in the month after refusing to answer questions about his son's future. Instead he reportedly went to meet Monaco representatives, who can speak to the player whose contract expires in six months.
2/8 Edinson Cavani to Manchester United, £40m
Should United take the plunge and sell Wayne Rooney (either to Chelsea or otherwise) they'll need a replacement to fill his impervious shoes. The England striker will be out of contract next summer and is believed to want to make a decision on his future once the season has developed. Edinson Cavani is the international strike partner of fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez and is reportedly disillusioned by football in Ligue 1. Reports surfaced this month that Sir Alex Ferguson had rung his former player Laurent Blanc, the current PSG manager, to sound out a possible move.
3/8 Yohan Cabaye to PSG, £21m
Newcastle United are preparing themselves for a considerable offer for Yohan Cabaye from the French giants after it emerged that they are willing to part with £21m for the midfielder. PSG have held a firm interest in the 28-year-old Frenchman for over a year and were expected to rival Arsenal for his signature in the summer. The Gunners' £10m bid was rejected and the Parisian club opted to bide their time despite Cabaye missing three games in an attempt to force a move away from St. James' Park.
4/8 Dimitar Berbatov (back) to Tottenham, £1.5m
His agent has already claimed that the Bulgarian would like to leave Fulham this month despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. With £2m believed to be enough to secure skillful striker, it would be a low cost, low risk option, but questions remain over his work rate and energy levels. Whether Berbatov would quench the thirst of fans who feel another striker is integral to their top four hopes remains uncertain, but he does come with a natural talent that few in the Premier League can match – if only he produced it regularly.
5/8 Miralem Pjanic to Manchester United, £27m
Roma star Miralem Pjanic has left the door open on a possible move to reigning Premier League champions Manchester United after admitting that he is 'flattered' by their interest. The 23-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina international is also attracting attention from French giants Paris Saint Germain. Despite a move seeming unlikely during January, Pjanic appears open to a potential switch. It's a shame he isn't moving to a club in the capital, just because we could bring out our best 'Pjanic on the streets of London' gags.
6/8 Andriy Yarmolenko to Liverpool, £10m
Should they miss out on Salah, Liverpool may switch their attention to Dynamo Kiev's Andriy Yarmolenko. The Reds have held a tentative interest in the 24-year-old after he figured prominently for the Ukraine against England in last year's World Cup qualifiers. Yarmolenko has scored eight league goals in sixteen appearances for Kiev this season, and has fourteen goals for Ukraine. Kop manager Brendan Rodgers is rumoured to prefer Salah, but the Swiss club continue to stall on any potential deal.
7/8 Ravel Morrison to Fulham, £8m
West Ham want a minimum of £10m for their sought-after midfielder Ravel Morrison, according to reports. Sam Allardyce's side have already rejected a £5m bid from Fulham and reported the club to the FA for alleged tapping up of the player. Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen has now reportedly been banned from talking about any transfers as the club try to avoid any more trouble. However West Ham No. 2 Neil McDonald said: “I would imagine everybody has a price. Asked if the Hammers want to keep the England under-21 star, he added: “Why not? He’s a talented player and we need talented players."
8/8 Ilkay Gundogan to Manchester United, £25m
United’s search for midfield reinforcements has led them to Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan, although they could face a fight with Real Madrid to sign the Germany international. With Anderson at Fiorentina on loan, it is believed David Moyes has stepped up his interest in 23-year-old Gundogan whose contract expires in 18 months and is valued at £25m. Part of the attraction is that the midfielder is not cup-tied for the Champions League as he has been out for most of the season with a back injury, although German newspaper Bild reports that Real are also admirers. “I will soon make a decision that will be well considered. It’s still really open,” Gundogan said yesterday.