Last Updated: Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:47
Man Utd are stepping up their interest in Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke amid claims they have mandated Spanish lawyers to open talks.
United are the favourites to sign the 21-year-old Spanish international after Reds boss David Moyes travelled to Madrid last month to watch him in action against Porto in the Champions League.
Atletico are well aware of United's interest, while the player has shrugged off reports of a potential move to Old Trafford to link-up with his former team-mate David de Gea.
United are now reported to have given a Spanish law firm the mandate to negotiate the transfer of Koke, whose real name is Jose Resurrecion Merodio, on their behalf.
This mirrors the farcical situation that took place when the club gave a firm of Bilbao lawyers the same mandate to negotiate the release clause of Athletic Club's Ander Herrera in the summer.
That deal broke down when United backed out, realising that the fee could not be negotiated.
Koke's release clause is understood to be £45million and United could find it tough to persuade Atletico to accept a fee much less than that at this stage of the season.
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