As England woke up wrapped in World Cup fever after last night’s 2-0 win against Poland, we can finally put international football aside and concentrate on club football which, whether the FA likes it or not, the bread and butter for the overwhelming majority of fans.
However, whether it’s a matter of clubs or internationals, one things remains certain: the rumour mill is constantly, relentlessly in action and Manchester United, who have seen Michael Carrick excel in an England shirt yesterday, have now been linked with yet another midfielder.
This time it’s the turn of the “new Xavi” of Spanish football, Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, who was already on Sir Alex Ferguson last season and has been a pivotal figure in his side’s impressive start to the season – Atletico have won eight out of their first games in La Liga and only trail Barcelona on goal difference.
The 21-year-old’s form has been so impressive that Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque has decided to include him in the Spain squad for the recent qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia, and reports on today’s back pages claim that David Moyes could move for the talented youngster in January.
One of the many talents produced by that seemingly endless conveyor belt of classy midfielders that is Spanish football, Koke normally operates as central midfielder and his position, coupled with his 5ft 10in frame, has earned him the rather predictable tag of “new Xavi”, a player he could replace at the heart of Spain’s national team in the not-too-distant future.
However, unlike the Barca playmaker, Koke can also play a slightly more advanced role, pretty much in the mould of his compatriot, Cesc Fabregas.
Having lost out on Thiago Alcantara, Fabregas and having refused to meet Ander Herrera’s release clause, United will have to sweat if they’re to lure Koke away from the Vicente Calderon, for while the 21-year-old’s release clause is a mere – considering today’s value – £16m, his performances haven’t gone unnoticed in Spain and Barcelona are reported to have monitored his progress.
Furthermore, and that should concern United a lot more, Atletico Madrid are definitely a team on the way up, with their fantastic start to La Liga – matched by two wins in their first two Champions League games – coming on the back of their Spanish Cup triumph last season, when they beat Real Madrid in the final.
Brace yourselves for another saga.