Manchester United have essentially got no choice whether to strengthen in the summer or not.
Jose Mourinho is learning the harsh reality that spending big doesn’t guarantee you a title challenge, but he may have already turned his attention to a much cheaper target.
The Mirror report that United scouts have been keeping a close eye on Barcelona starlet Carles Alena, whose contract runs out in 2017 – meaning he could be available at a cut-price fee, or even on a Bosman.
Barca want the 18-year-old to sign a new deal to keep him at the Nou Camp for a further four years, but it’s unclear whether he is going to break into the first team in the immediate future, though the same could be said if he moved to Old Trafford.
Luis Enrique did put him on the bench against Malaga even if he wasn’t given a chance to come on, but that may be the Blaugrana’s way of convincing him he does have a future with the La Liga champions.
The Spain under-19 captain is already being dubbed the new Andres Iniesta because of his composure on the ball. He’s technically-gifted and has been pulling the strings in the midfield of Barca’s youth teams as he’s progressed through the ranks.
The left-footed wonderkid would give United more options in the middle, as they look for a successor to the passing prowess of an ageing Michael Carrick.
United cannot atest to have that same quality – prowess – when comparing themselves to Barcelona right now, but if they could promise him regular football, there’s a chance Mourinho could trump the Catalonians – and there are still few things he enjoys more than that.