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