Manchester United must hope Robert Lewandowski's desire to play in the Premier League will enable them to win the race to sign Europe's most in-demand player, with Bayern Munich also confident they can persuade Borussia Dortmund to sell this summer.
Lewandowski's agent has used his client's virtuoso display in Dortmund's magnificent 4-1 Champions League win over Real Madrid to try to flush out interested parties by claiming he has already reached an agreement with one club – thought to be Bayern – regarding personal terms.
Although Dortmund have responded to the hype surrounding the 24-year-old by insisting they will keep him for the final year of his contract, even though they will lose him for nothing at the end of it, his agent Maik Barthel contradicted that by claiming he had persuaded them to let him leave at the end of the season.
It is the perfect scenario for Barthel to exploit in terms of maximising Lewandowski's earning potential, while Dortmund will be happy for a bidding war to take place if they are resigned to losing yet another of their star players.
However, given Bayern's dominance in the Bundesliga title race this season and the fact they have already lost their playmaker, Mario Gotze, to their domestic rivals after they activated his £32m release clause, Dortmund would rather sell to a foreign club.
Others may well show their hand in the coming days, and United could face competition from both Manchester City and Chelsea if Dortmund give the green light for his departure. Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain are also potential rivals to sign a player who has scored 34 goals in 42 league games.
"We have reached an agreement with a club and intend (him) to move this summer," Barthel said.
"There is a very interesting offer for Robert, which fulfils entirely the demands set by Dortmund and also the demands of Robert.
"Dortmund have assured us that Robert can move at the end of the season under these conditions. We stick to agreements and now it's up to the clubs to sort things out."
Lewandowski's manager Cezary Kucharski has said that the forward will soon "play at a bigger club," but Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke denied there was any deal to let the Poland star go at the end of the season.
He said: "Robert has a contract until 2014 and there is no exit clause like with Mario Gotze. It is our explicit wish to keep him until 2014. That is why we are saying no to a transfer fee."
The future of Lewandowski, who has repeatedly declined to discuss what he will do next, and the departure of Gotze have taken the shine off Dortmund's dismantling of Real Madrid, and the German club are understandably irritable at the constant speculation.
"We are getting £32m for Gotze which we don't even want," said coach Jurgen Klopp. "I do not have the feeling that Robert is on the run and we are not the ones to send him away."
Ultimately, though, their insistence that they do not have to sell in the summer is more likely to be a ploy to ensure they can ask for as much money as possible for a player whose market value should have fallen because of his contract situation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)