Atletico Madrid are reportedly in pole position to land soon-to-be out of contract AC Milan midfielder and Manchester United target Hakan Calhanoglu.

According to a report from Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, La Liga giants Atletico Madrid are leading the race to sign AC Milan star Hakan Calhanoglu, who is also a target for Premier League bigwigs Manchester United.

Calhanoglu burst onto the scenes at Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen, making a name for himself as a set-piece specialist. The 26-year-old joined AC Milan in the summer of 2017 but took time to adapt to life in Italy. However, over the past eighteen months or so, he has been one of the best players for the Rossoneriplaying a key role in their resurgence under Stefano Pioli.

The Turkish international has been one of the most in-form players in Italy in the post-lockdown period, first helping Milan to a top-six finish last season and to the top of the standings in the ongoing campaign. In 11 appearances across all competitions in 2020/21, Calhanoglu has racked up an impressive return of four goals and assists each.

However, he might not remain a Rossoneri for long as the attacking midfielder is in the final year of his contract with the club. Negotiations over a new deal are underway but the two parties are some way off of arriving at an agreement as Calhanoglu is demanding wages of €7 million-a-year, whereas the club are willing to offer only half of that.

This has led to the possibility of Calhanoglu leaving AC Milan in January, with the club looking to generate some revenue from his sale rather than losing him for nothing in the summer. And, this development has seemingly put Manchester United on high-alert.

Atletico Madrid and Manchester United battling for Hakan Calhanoglu (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid and Manchester United battling for Hakan Calhanoglu (Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

The Red Devils have strengthened their midfield unit over the past year, having first secured the signing of Bruno Fernandes in January, which was followed by Donny van de Beek’s arrival this past summer.

However, Juan Mata is in the final year of his deal and Jesse Lingard is seemingly out of favour. So, adding another creative player like Calhanoglu, or Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, who can play as a No. 10 as well as on the flanks would make sense for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co.

But the Red Devils are set to face fierce competition for his signing as Atletico Madrid are reported to be leading the pursuit of the 26-year-old Turkish international.

It is claimed that Diego Simeone’s side have tried to sign Calhanoglu on a couple of occasions in the past but failed. But that could change this time out due to their ability to offer him a starting role at the Wanda Metropolitano, something that is not guaranteed at Manchester United.

Along with Atletico, both Juventus and Inter Milan are monitoring the 26-year-old’s situation vigilantly as well. However, it is the Rojiblancos and Manchester United who are currently leading the chase, according to the report. It will be interesting to see how this story develops in the coming weeks, with the winter transfer window not far away.

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