Manchester United ‘step up interest’ in 18-year-old Real Madrid target: report

According to the Mirror, Manchester United are ‘stepping up their interest’ to snatch Sporting striker Rafael Leao from the clutches of Manchester City and Real Madrid.

The 18-year-old is being linked with a host of clubs after featuring in four first-team games, but Sporting have turned down all interest in his signature so far. That hasn’t stopped suitors bringing scouts to cast an eye on the Portuguese u21 international, however.

The report says Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea each brought a representative to Sporting’s 2-1 defeat to FC Porto in the last week, although United are leading the pack due to their good relationship with the selling club.

The Red Devils have been in Sporting’s good graces after signing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 and a move could be made soon given Jose Mourinho reportedly told Ed Woodward that United should strike while the iron is hot.

There is an obvious reason why Leao could be overlooked, however, and that is the downfall of one of their own talented young strikers – Marcus Rashford. The 20-year-old has struggled for playing time this season due to the stiff competition for a starting place – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez. Adding another wouldn’t be smart.

The team has too many attackers vying for one or two positions which may put Leao off making the move to Old Trafford, as being loaned out elsewhere for the foreseeable future is hardly better than pushing for more games at his boyhood club.

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