Manchester United are attempting to close a deal with Gremio for the 18-year-old Brazilian forward Douglas Costa, despite both parties differing vastly on their valuation of a player who has been labelled the 'new Ronaldinho.'
By Mark Ogden
Published: 11:05AM BST 13 Jul 2009
Sir Alex Ferguson
New blood: Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping an offer of £7 million plus progress incentives will be enough for Gremio to sell up Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Gremio, who provided the platform for Ronaldinho to launch his career towards global stardom, are currently in financial difficulties and have thus placed a £20m price tag on Costa.
But with the youngster making fewer than 20 appearances for Gremio, United have no intention of meeting the asking price and a figure in the region of £7m, with incentives to escalate the fee should Costa succeed at Old Trafford, has been their opening offer to the Porto Alegre-based club.
United have been monitoring Costa for more than six months after being alerted to his potential by the club's Brazil-based scout John Calvert Toulmin. But their interest emerged publicly last month when Costa's agent, Cesar Bottega, revealed that United had made informal contact with Gremio.
A move to take Costa on trial was rejected by Gremio, who believe that Real Madrid's underlying interest in the player will put pressure on United to raise their bid.
Having banked £80m from Real Madrid for Ronaldo, United have funds to meet Gremio's asking price, but manager Sir Alex Ferguson has no intention to of paying such a high fee for the player and any deal now rests on the clubs thrashing out a compromise.
Leading football dealmaker Chris Nathaniel has held talks with Gremio in an effort to broker a deal between the two clubs and, should United succeed, it is likely to prompt more accusations of the club draining Brazil of their leading young talent.
United, who already have Brazilian youngsters Rodrigo Possebon and the Da Silva twins on their books, were recently accused of 'raping' Brazilian football by the country's 1970 World Cup winning captain Carlos Alberto.
Ferguson continues to scour the world for young talent for United's future, however – a policy he has adopted ever since luring a 17-year-old Lee Sharpe from Torquay United in 1988 – and Costa would follow the likes of Wayne Rooney
, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Anderson, Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic if he completes a move to Old Trafford this summer.