Manchester United are aiming to secure a £30m deal for Southampton defender Luke Shaw before the World Cup after moving ahead of Chelsea in the race to sign the teenager.
With club scouts also being dispatched to watch Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus during Saturday's 3-0 victory against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, United are intensifying their efforts to bolster their squad after David Moyes' disastrous first season in charge.
Although Moyes's future as manager remains in doubt, United are pressing ahead with attempts to recruit the players the Scot has identified as key targets. United are confident of being able to persuade Southampton left-back Shaw to reject Chelsea, whom he supported as a boy, in favour of a move to Old Trafford to replace Patrice Evra.
While Chelsea remain determined to sign the England defender, Shaw is understood to be concerned by a possible lack of regular football at Stamford Bridge due to the impressive form of Cesar Azpilicueta and with Ashley Cole expected to sign a one-year contract extension at the club.
Evra's anticipated departure from Old Trafford this summer, however, has left United in pressing need of a first-choice left-back and, at 18, Shaw is viewed as having the potential to fill the position for the next decade.
Southampton have publicly insisted they have no need to sell any of Mauricio Pochettino's squad, with England midfielder Adam Lallana and Croatian defender Dejan Lovren also attracting interest from rival clubs.
But United believe that a deal can be struck for Shaw, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward attempting to complete at least one signing before the World Cup begins in June.
A deal is understood to be close for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho, but beating Chelsea to Shaw would be regarded as a statement of intent by United at the end of a campaign in which they missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 19 years.
Attempts to persuade Bayern Munich to sell Germany midfielder Toni Kroos have yet to bear fruit, with United fearing that the European champions will thrash out a new contract for the 24-year-old.
But there is a belief that Reus could be tempted from Dortmund, despite the player's escape clause at the Westfalenstadion not due to come into effect until the end of next season.
With uncertainty surrounding the future of Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski announcing his decision to follow former team-mate Mario Gotze to Bayern this summer, there is a sense that the Bundesliga outfit would be ready to do business with Reus to help fund a rebuilding programme.
Dortmund midfielder Ilkay -Gundogan, who was a United target, yesterday committed his future to the Bundesliga club by signing a new contract until 2016, however.
The Glazer family are set for an unprecedented summer of spending to renew a squad which will lose several key figures at the end of the season.
Captain Nemanja Vidic will leave for Inter, while Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa are all expected to be moved on. (© Daily Telegraph, London)