Manchester United look unlikely to be signing Jude Bellingham this summer amid the midfielder’s reportedly imminent move to Real Madrid.

Marca report Real Madrid are set to win the race for the England international. The Telegraph had claimed the midfielder was high on Erik ten Hag’s wishlist.

Next best scenario

Missing out on Jude Bellingham is a shame where Manchester United are concerned. He was a player who could have set the club’s midfield for the next decade.

But if we were going to lose out on the youngster, seeing him head to Real Madrid is the next best scenario from a United perspective.

Bellingham’s other options were Manchester City or Liverpool. He would have made either side stronger, and proved a thorn in United’s side. It’s difficult enough already. Thankfully it appears he is not Premier League bound.

Two lessons learned

There are a couple of lessons to be learned from Manchester United’s perspective with the Bellingham situation.

(A) Make sure you get your target first time: United could have signed Bellingham for £20 million in 2020. He was tempted elsewhere, and it was a costly miss.

(B) Get business done early: There is much to be admired about the way Real Madrid appear close to clinching this deal already, and it has only just turned May. When we do we expect United to get close to doing a deal? Will it be mid-July as usual?

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Three Bellingham alternatives

Manchester United are now expected to focus on signing a striker. But there is still room for a midfield addition or two.

Moises Caicedo is the standout name. Like Bellingham, United should have signed him years ago for far cheaper. He is young, proven in the Premier League, and has got it all. He will still be expensive but won’t cost as much as the Englishman.

Another option is England international Declan Rice, who could choose to finally leave West Ham this summer. While not as an exciting player as Bellingham, he is also Premier League tried and tested and would be a solid addition.

A cheaper alternative is to sign Celta Vigo sensation Gabri Veiga. The 20-year-old has had a stunning season in La Liga and has a release clause of just £26 million, report AS.

The Spanish newspaper has reported United’s interest in the midfielder, who has scored nine goals and provided four assists this season.

He would be far cheaper than Caicedo or Rice, and allow United greater flexibility to spend big on a striker.

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