Manchester United have reportedly set their sights on Real Madrid sensation Marco Asensio instead of bankrolling a move for his teammate Gareth Bale.

According to Spanish publication Don Balon, Jose Mourinho is planning an assault on Real Madrid, but the player in question is not Gareth Bale. The report suggests that the manager is not too keen on the Welshman and is instead looking at the prospect of bringing Marco Asensio to Manchester United.

Marco Asensio rose to fame in the 2016-17 campaign for Real Madrid. The player, arriving from Mallorca in the summer of 2015, impressed during his season-long loan spell at Espanyol in the 2015-16 season and was thus, retained by Real Madrid for the upcoming campaign.

The Spaniard emerged as a prodigious talent, with the 2016-17 season his true breakout campaign. The player recorded 38 appearances for Los Blancos – most of them from the bench. But, it was his return – 10 goals and 4 assists in just over 1900 minutes of football – that had given Real Madrid their latest Spanish hope.

Such was the magnitude of the player’s rise to fame that Real Madrid moved quickly to extend his deal to 2023 while also including a enormous release clause. But, that has not deterred Manchester United, who have been continuously linked with the player.

Marco Asensio has been strapped for regular game time at Real Madrid this season as Zinedine Zidane’s managerial tenure seems to be unraveling quickly at the Bernabeu. The player has still managed to produce 7 goals and 3 assists for the Spanish giants and his performances have been begging for a more integral role at Real.

But, Zidane has been looking to add to his attacking options in January, according to reports, which would mean an increase in competition for places upfront. Asensio, thus, could look to a club where he can be an undisputed first-team player, something that seems to be in the offing at Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho has been crying out for a winger to add to his squad and while Asensio predominantly operates on the left, his ability to play all across the front three will prove to be an asset for the club, should they land the 21-year-old.

Asensio’s blistering pace, combined with his ability to leave defenders in his wake is something Manchester United currently lack, with Anthony Martial the only player capable of striking a similar fear in the opposition.

Manchester United had been linked with Gareth Bale. But, according to the report, Jose Mourinho prefers Asensio over Bale, with the Welshman’s injury history a dark cloud on his impressive resume.

Real Madrid would not want to part with the 21-year-old, with Florentino Perez aiming to build a Spanish core for the future. But, for Marco Asensio, his reduced role in the present time at Real Madrid might just see him become disenchanted with the whole project and seek a move elsewhere.

This deal, though, is one that looks more probable in the summer, if the situation surrounding Asensio’s game time does not improve at Real Madrid by the end of the season.