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The Brazilian teenager has attracted the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson but, with Real Madrid and Inter also involved, his wage demands are a potential stumbling block

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Manchester United are fearful of being priced out of the race to sign Sao Paulo’s teenage sensation Lucas Moura.

Goal.com understands that United have offered £20 million plus add-ons for the 19-year-old, but have been told that both his club and representatives will only settle for a fee closer to £30m.

The Premier League runners-up are also concerned that Chelsea will soon return to the negotiating table, and have no intention of entering a bidding war with the Stamford Bridge club.

The Brazilian club are determined to keep hold of the attacking midfielder, with only an extraordinary bid likely to sway their president, Juvenal Juvencio, who on Saturday claimed that they would “risk” holding onto their prized asset.

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However, Lucas' club own just 80 per cent of his economic rights - with the player himself holding the remaining 20% - and, should the 19-year-old be willing to forgo his cut of a fee, he could be available for below his market worth.

United, who face stiff competition for the player’s signature from the likes of Inter and Real Madrid, are understood to have made contact with Lucas through third parties but have been put off by his extravagant £110,000-a-week wage demands.

The Old Trafford outfit hope that further talks could take place once the Sao Paulo man lands in Britain ahead of the Olympic football tournament this week.

The Premier League giants were gazumped by Chelsea in the race to sign Belgian attacker Eden Hazard earlier this summer, after the Blues offered the former Lille man far more attractive salary package, and are mindful of recent history repeating itself.

The club are confident that the Portuguese-speaking enclave of Nani, Anderson and Rafael Da Silva would ensure a smooth adaptation period but are mindful that, should Lucas enjoy a reputation-enhancing Olympic tournament, in which he will be part of a star-studded Brazil squad, his transfer value will increase further.

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The recent appointment of Ney Franco as Emerson Leao's successor at Sao Paulo could increase the attacker's chances of staying, though, as the new coach is expected to play the Brazilian in his favoured free role rather than wide on the right.

Lucas also recently expressed his desire to win trophies with his first club but will be expected to sign an improved contract should he stay, with his current deal expiring in 2015.

Earlier this week Sao Paulo claimed that they had already received concrete offers from United and Real Madrid for Lucas, who is already a senior international. Inter, who are reported to have been unsuccessful with a £20m bid, also maintain an interest in the player.

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