Premier League champions Manchester City are in danger of losing summer target Edinson Cavani to La Liga champions Real Madrid.
The Daily Mail reports that a delegation from the Santiago Bernabeu are in advanced negotiations with the player's agent over a big-money move to the Spanish capital.
The 26-year-old Uruguayan international is in excellent form with Napoli in the Italian Serie A, having scored 18 goals in 23 league appearances having scored 23 from 35 games last season. The South American has been as prolific in Europe as well, with seven goals and an assist from seven Europa League games.
Cavani was linked heavily with a move to the Premier League at the start of the season, with both Chelsea and City reportedly interested in his services.At the time, The Sun reported the player would cost £35m but any such claims were swiftly denied by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who declared: "Cavani is not for sale, but we could let him go for €100m (approximately £87m)."
It appeared the astronomical valuation was enough to deter the English pair however, City coach Angelo Gregucci has been quoted as confirming the Etihad Stadium club have continued to monitor the striker and retain an interest in signing him. And, more recently, the Telegraph reported the champions were preparing a £40m bid for the player.
Jose Mourinho's side have also been strongly linked with Gareth Bale. The Tottenham Hotspur winger is widely expected to arrive at the Bernabeu in the summer and that could signal yet another multi-million pound revamp of the first team.
Club president Florentino Perez faces elections and could use the signing of Bale, Cavani and other big-name players as bait to lure voters, much as he did with the capture of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo, among others.
The Spanish club, who face Manchester United in the Champions League next week, already have Argentine Gonzalo Higuain and France's Karim Benzema in their ranks, alongside top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo. However, both Higuain and Benzema have endured difficult campaigns thus far - Higuain has nine goals from 17 La Liga games and Benzema has six from 19. Last season, by comparison Higuain netted 22 from 35 and Benzema 21 from 34.
The introduction of Cavani will serve to add greater competition up front but, more likely, will lead to one of the duo leaving the club.
Chelsea have been linked with Higuain, even as recently as the first week of the January transfer window. Spanish newspaper AS believed the Blues would make a £24m offer for the 25-year-old. Given the expected combined cost of Bale and Cavani, which could exceed £100m, Madrid are likely to seriously consider any bid for the Argentine.
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