Manchester United have received a major blow in their pursuit of Marcos Llorente, who has a €120 million release clause in his Atletico Madrid deal.

According to an exclusive report released by MARCA, Atletico Madrid are ready to issue a hands-off approach in their bid to fend off suitors for Marcos Llorente. The versatile midfielder has been linked with a move to Manchester United recently, although the report does state that no club has made an offer for the player.

Regardless, it appears Atletico Madrid are determined to keep hold of their prized asset, meaning any interested party will either have to pay his exorbitant €120 million release clause or set their sights on other alternatives.

Los Colchoneros are also not happy with the way the speculations regarding Llorente’s potential departure have surfaced in recent weeks as they feel it could derail their title push. The Spaniard has played a critical role behind the success of Diego Simeone’s men this season, with the club leading the La Liga table by four points.

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - MAY 12: Marcos Llorente of Real Madrid CF looks on prior to the start the La Liga match between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Anoeta on May 12, 2019 in San Sebastian, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Marcos Llorente used to ply his trade at Real Madrid. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Llorente was initially brought in from Real Madrid in 2019 for a meagre €30 million. While the native from Madrid had to endure a relatively slow start to his career at the Wanda Metropolitano, he has eventually become a crucial element in Atletico’s offensive game.

Indeed, the 26-year-old has been involved in a total of 17 goals this campaign, becoming an asset in a changed three-man backline that has usually seen him operate down the right-hand side. Llorente, though, has also featured in other positions including central midfield and secondary striker. And his unmatched versatility seems to have attracted the interest of Manchester United.

Bracing for a potential squad overhaul in the summer, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen on reinforcements in the creative and midfield unit. Paul Pogba, for one, could be on the verge of a move away from Old Trafford while the likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard face uncertain futures at Manchester United, albeit for contrasting reasons.

It has accentuated the need for someone like Llorente, who can offer that versatility as well as the athleticism that should make him a tailor-made fit in the Premier League. The Spaniard is also proficient without the ball, boasting some serious work-ethic that has rejuvenated Atletico’s second line of press this season, but his €120 million exit clause could prove to be a stumbling block.

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Manchester United simply cannot afford to splash €120 million for the services of Llorente, knowing it could come at the expense of their pursuit of Jadon Sancho. In fact, the Red Devils were already looking for ways to avoid paying Borussia Dortmund’s €100 million valuation of the Englishman, so it appears highly unlikely that they will manage to sign the Atletico midfield anytime soon.

Llorente, though, is destined to become one of La Liga’s best midfielders if he can keep up his marvellous progress under Simeone. It will be interesting to see where the future takes him and whether or not he can star for Spain in the upcoming European Championship this summer.

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