UNITED CHASING ESPANYOL STARLET
By Luis Murillo & Nic Evans
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Lopo has been watched five times by Martin Ferguson, United boss Sir Alex's brother although only two of the games have been in the Montjuic Stadium, Espanyol's home.
The Barcelona-based club still have serious financial problems, despite selling Sergio Gonzalez for £10 million in the summer and the possibility of Lopo being a 'sacrificial lamb' is a distinct possibility.
If United were to follow up their interest with a definite bid, they would have to pay Lopo's buy out clause which is currently set at 1,500 million pesetas (£5.60 million). The defender's versatility and ease on the ball is believed to have sparked Ferguson's interest.
The 21-year-old has secured himself as a first team fixture in the Espanyol squad, which has certainly attracted a number of teams to him, whilst he has been a mainstay of the Spanish Under-21 international side.
Sources in Spain suggest that Ferguson will attempt to purchase the player in the New Year, although whether this will be during the transfer window, which expires at the end of January, or in the summer remains to be seen.
However, with Ferguson retiring from the club at the end of the season, and United's well documented defensive woes, speed would appear to be of the essence. The English side will face competition from both Real and Barcelona, who were widely reported to be interested in Lopo in October.