Manchester United expect to seal the £24m signing of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin before the end of this week.
Schneiderlin, 25, reported for duty at Southampton’s Staplewood training ground on Monday with Ronald Koeman‘s squad making an early start to their pre-season campaign due to Europa League qualifying round commitments.
It is understood, however, that the France international will travel to Manchester within the next 48 hours to undergo a medical before finalising a move to Old Trafford.
But while Schneiderlin is close to becoming United’s second summer signing, following the capture of PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay in May, Real Madrid are expected to intensify efforts to lure David de Gea to the Bernabeu this week in order to prevent the goalkeeper from having to return to United for pre-season training next week.
United have overcome competition from Arsenal to move into pole position to capture Schneiderlin.
The defensive midfielder had seemed destined for the Emirates, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger retaining a long-standing interest in the former Strasbourg youngster, but United’s readiness to outbid the London club in both wages and transfer fee have edged the player to the brink of ending Louis van Gaal’s search for a proven central midfielder.
Van Gaal has moved for Schneiderlin after abandoning his pursuit of Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, whose failure to prove his fitness after a cruciate ligament injury has ended United’s interest in the Holland international.
With Michael Carrick approaching his 34th birthday next month (July), the recent injury problems suffered by the former Tottenham and West Ham midfielder have prompted Van Gaal target Schneiderlin.
Van Gaal remains keen to add Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who he believes can add experience and leadership to his squad at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, United’s attempts to secure at least £30m for De Gea have led to a stand-off between themselves and Real, which has also seen the future of defender Sergio Ramos become entwined with that of the former Atletico Madrid ‘keeper.
Real manager Rafael Benitez took charge at the Bernabeu almost a month ago, with the Spaniard expecting to have De Gea installed quickly.
But United are determined not to sell De Gea below their valuation and the 24-year-old’s future could remain unresolved when he is due to report back for pre-season training on July 6.
Real and Benitez want to make progress on De Gea this week, but their move for the Spain international has been complicated by United’s determination to sign Real defender Sergio Ramos.
United have failed with an initial £32m bid for the 29-year-old Ramos, with reports in Spain suggesting that Real want at least £65m for the centre-half.
Real’s efforts to accelerate their capture of De Gea could see a compromise reached on both De Gea and Ramos, but United have made it clear that they will not come close to meeting Real’s valuation of Ramos.
Manchester United have increased their interest in Seamus Coleman but the club have yet to make an official bid, according to reports. United have been long-time admirers of the Ireland international and it is understood that manager Louis van Gaal is lining up the Donegal native to fill the void at right-back.