Manchester United have expressed an interest in Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic but any negotiations won’t be easy.

The 24-year-old is unhappy with the amount of game time he has received at Madrid following his £25million move there from Inter Milan in 2015 and has made it clear he would like to leave.

However, Madrid value him highly as a versatile and quality back-up to their midfield and are reluctant to sell.

The Croatia international has made 109 appearances over three years though mainly from the bench. He can play as a deep lying playmaker or on the left and has over 40 caps for his country.

Madrid accept he wants to play more but would ask a hefty fee as he is under contract until 2021 and has a £264million release clause.

Kovacic is also on Manchester City’s shortlist and has been the subject of enquiries from Roma and Juventus too.

City earmarked him as their alternative option to Jorginho of Napoli who they are still in negotiations with over a £48million transfer.

United want an extra midfielder to cover for Marouane Fellaini’s expected departure. They have signed Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and want Willian from Chelsea.

Juventus retain a strong interest in Anthony Martial but United have no wish to sell unless the player continues to push strongly for a move and a substantial offer is received.

Transfer updates: Manchester United eye move for Mateo Kovacic but Real Madrid are reluctant to sell

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