Van Gaal set to splash £22m to secure Pedro
Louis Van Gaal is ready to trigger Pedro Rodriguez's £22m escape clause to take the Barcelona forward to Manchester United.
Liverpool and Chelsea are also interested in signing the 27-year-old, but sources close to him have claimed that United are Pedro's favoured option, with the player keen to join fellow Spaniards Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and David de Gea at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal, who has spent £76 m on four new signings so far this summer, is determined to "improve at least two positions" before the transfer window closes, with the Dutchman identifying a forward and an experienced centre-half as his two priorities. Pedro, who scored for Barcelona against United in the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, signed a new four-year contract at the Nou Camp last month, but it is understood that the player committed to the new deal only after negotiating a reduction in his buy-out clause from £110m to £22m.
Despite making a consistent contribution to Barcelona's treble success last season, Pedro's opportunities have been limited by the presence of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez and manager Luis Enrique accepts that he is powerless to prevent the player from leaving.
"I do not want any player to leave my staff, none," Enrique said. "I have said many times how important Pedro is for us but there is a clause and, if he wants to leave, I will respect his decision."
United are due to face Barcelona in California next Saturday in the third game of their tour of the United States.
Meanwhile, United expect David de Gea to leave next year if he misses out on a move to Real Madrid this summer.
De Gea is due to play in United's pre-season tour opener against Mexican outfit Club America at Seattle's CenturyLink Field later today.
But despite so far being able to resist Real's attempts to lure De Gea to the Bernabeu as a replacement for Iker Casillas, senior figures at United accept that the 24-year-old is almost certain to leave Old Trafford as a free agent when his contract expires in 11 months' time and could even negotiate a move to Real in January.
Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is understood to have been lined up as a replacement for De Gea, whether he leaves United before the September 1 transfer deadline or at the end of the season.
Elsewhere, Chelsea are prepared to make John Stones the most expensive English defender in history.
Everton have rejected an opening offer of £20m for the 21-year-old, but Chelsea are unlikely to be dissuaded in their pursuit of a player who is seen as the long-term successor to John Terry.
The Premier League champions are preparing a second approach and will consider going beyond the £30m Manchester United paid Leeds for Rio Ferdinand in 2002.
Jose Mourinho wants a defender before the transfer window closes as he prepares to offload Filipe Luis to Atletico Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain, but Everton are adamant they will not allow Stones to leave during this transfer window.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)