Manchester United are considering a shock 12 million pounds bid for Queens Park Rangers midfielder Adel Taarabt in the January transfer window.
Any offer could tempt new QPR manager Harry Redknapp into a sale as it would raise the crucial funds he requires to bolster his squad when the window reopens.
At present there is only a relatively small amount of money available to Redknapp, who could also rely heavily on the loan market as he targets a striker and a central defender, in particular, in his attempt to haul QPR off the bottom of the Premier League. Redknapp was guarded yesterday (Monday) about his plans for the forthcoming window, again pointing out that investment had already been made in the squad with 12 players arriving - at a cost of pounds 14?million in transfer fees and a sharp increase in QPR's wage bill - during the summer.
QPR do not have the pounds 9?million they bid for Tottenham Hotspur defender Michael Dawson, who will be a target again, in August as they had to spend pounds 3.8?million on midfielder Esteban Granero to add to the squad. That was because of uncertainty over whether Samba Diakite would return to the club from France, as he has subsequently done, after he suffered from depression.
Spurs would appear less likely to allow Dawson to leave in January than they were in August, with Younes Kaboul still out injured, and would resist any approach for Scott Parker, who has not played this season. Jermain Defoe is not for sale either.
Redknapp takes charge of his first match this evening, away to Sunderland, with QPR still in search of their first league victory of the season and, although the new manager reiterated yesterday that he had no intention of selling Taarabt, there was a warning that he had to work harder on the pitch.
In 2010, when he was Spurs manager, Redknapp sold Taarabt to QPR, famously calling him a "fruitcake", and the midfielder remains an erratic, if hugely talented, player. Redknapp might, understandably, be tempted to sell if the right offer comes in and he is given the funds to buy. It is understood that QPR would push for closer to pounds 15?million if possible.
United have shown interest in the 23-year-old Moroccan in the past, and considered an offer when QPR were promoted from the Championship.
Taarabt went on loan to QPR in 2009 before signing permanently the following year, for just pounds 1?million, becoming the key player in the club's promotion season when he was given the captaincy by the then manager Neil Warnock. It was then that United were first linked with a move for Taarabt with Warnock claiming Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, had scouted the player, only for him to be sent off against Hull City.
Before the takeover led by Tony Fernandes in August 2011, it was expected that Taarabt would be sold and he was strongly linked to Paris St-Germain.