Ten wins from ten La Liga and Champions League games in 2013/14 suggests Atletico Madrid will be serious contenders in both competitions this term and their imperious start to the season has prompted interest in their trio of bright young things from some of Europe’s top clubs.
On-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could be tempted by a move from parent club Chelsea to Spanish champions Barcelona at the end of the seaosn, Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with La Liga top-scorer Diego Costa and Manchester United are set to fight it out with Barca over midfielder Koke’s signature when the transfer window reopens in January.
Koke has been brilliantly productive so far this term, laying on over a quarter of unbeaten Atletico’s goals in La Liga.
In 41 Spanish top-flight games since the start of last season the Madrid native has assisted 15 goals and scored five of his own, with another 82 key passes put through to teammates who could not subsequently find the back of the net.
Koke has featured in all but one of Atleti’s league games in their perfect start to the season – including all 90 minutes of the 1-0 win against local rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu – as well as both of Diego Simeone’s side’s Champions League Group G wins so far.
With a World Cup place at stake the midfielder would be better off in the Red Devils’ line-up than on Barca’s bench.
Despite his tender years Koke has already made over 100 appearances for Los Rojiblancos and featured for Spain in their recent World Cup 2014 qualifiers, starting in La Furia Roja’s 2-0 win in Finland last month and replacing Xavi for the last 25 minutes of their final Group I game against Georgia.
David Moyes is clearly desperate for a creative midfielder that can slot straight into the first team at Old Trafford, whereas Koke would find international teammates Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi blocking his route into Gerardo Martino’s side at the Camp Nou.
The 21-year-old’s rumoured £16m release clause means whoever lands Koke will grab a bargain.
United missed out on Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera on the last day of the transfer window because they did not activate the player’s £30m-plus release clause and failed repeatedly with bids for Los Blaugrana’s former Arsenal star Fabregas.
The prospect of picking up a player who has – unlike the Basque – broken into Vicente del Bosque’s Spain squad would represent great value for the champions and could leave Moyes with enough in the transfer kitty to continue his pursuit of a new left-back.