Sadio Mané unlikely to be answer for Red Devils
The conversations which took place when Louis van Gaal's spirits were on the floor two weeks ago - increasingly convinced that the Manchester United project was beyond him - included an insistence from the club that they would help out in this month's transfer market if he could just tough it out.
Now comes the test of whether the club can make good on that offer. Privately, United have been wholly unconvinced for the past three months that Southampton would sell them Sadio Mané, whom they are still interested in adding to their strike force, in the January transfer window because the value of next season's television deal does not create a requirement to let anyone leave.
Mané's failure to make a team meeting before their 1-0 defeat at Norwich and poor attitude in training last week offers encouragement to a club for whom a striker and left-back are priorities. But United face a number of substantial obstacles.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has always been very strong on the point of no players leaving this month, with his board ready to back him with an agreement not to sell in January but only do business in the summer.
Neither is Mané a player who has shown great desire to join United. He did not agitate to go last summer and the weekend episode, which angered Koeman, could simply be the latest example of his scatterbrained personality.
The policy of the club's executive director of football, Les Reed, will be the same with Mané as it has been for those other Southampton players who have been adamant about leaving in the past 18 months - ask the maximum possible sum and see what happens.
A £30m fee for the player, signed from Red Bull Salzburg for £11.8m, is likely to be the negotiating position.
Independent News Service