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Manchester United are believed to be plotting a move for Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio in January, according to reports.

According to Spanish outlet Don Balon, Jose Mourinho has opted against pursuing his interest in Gareth Bale in favour of a move for Asensio. Bale’s injury record has raised doubts for the United boss, despite Bale being his ultimate target.

Asensio, 21, has already made a name for himself at the Santiago Bernabeu with some top-notch goals but has failed to nail down a regular place in Zinedine Zidane’s team.

The Spain international started the season very brightly, shining in the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona. But after that, his form has faded significantly. He has shown glimpses of his talent but still struggled to nail down a place in the first XI, even while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale have underperformed too this term.

The former Mallorca man has made 21 appearances for the Spanish giants so far this season but has often been a sub under the French gaffer.

With Asensio struggling to get regular game time, it is thought that Mourinho, who is keen on the Spanish midfielder, could offer Asensio a starring role in United’s squad if negotiations properly begin between the two clubs. The Spaniard is expected to have a big future in the game and the United manager wants to test Real’s resolve.

However, the Red Devils have no intention of meeting the buy-out clause in his contract at Real, which stands at £442m.

Mourinho wants to bolster his squad in January and could go for the Spaniard. But Madrid will be reluctant to let go their future star mid-way through the season.

The proposal Manchester United plan to put forward in January to Real president Florentino Perez will be enough to gain serious interest. But Real and United have enjoyed a cold relationship for the past couple of years, mainly due to the failed transfer of David De Gea.

If not Asensio, Mourinho is also reportedly interested in bringing Bale to Old Trafford. Bale’s future, though, remains in serious doubt, with the 28-year-old still facing an exit next summer. But for the Portuguese coach, the continuous injuries that the Welsh winger is suffering in recent times are all a drag.