MANCHESTER United are closing in on the Â£24 million capture of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.
The Old Trafford giants are set to beat Arsenal and Tottenham to the transfer of the holding midfielder – who is poised to become Louis van Gaal’s second signing of the summer.
Schneiderlin said on Wednesday he hoped his future would be resolved by next week, when Saints return for pre-season training, and senior United sources are confident a deal can be struck by then.
Van Gaal gave executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the go-ahead to bid for France World Cup midfielder Schneiderlin, who now looks set to move to Manchester’s Reds on a four-year deal.
Schneiderlin had wanted to go to Arsenal last summer and went on strike in an effort to force a move, but Southampton stood firm.
Now both Arsenal and Spurs appear to have given up on him, leaving the way clear for United.
The Gunners’ interest in the 25-year-old waned with the emergence of the younger Francis Coquelin, while Spurs were never serious contenders because they are unable to offer him Champions League football.
Schneiderlin, who joined from Strasbourg in his homeland in June 2008, helped Saints qualify for the Europa League last season and wants to take his career to the next level and play in the Champions League, which United will return to in August.
Shaun BotterillGunner look elsewhere: Coquelin made Arsenal’s need for Schneiderlin less pressing
If the deal goes through, Schneiderlin will join winger Memphis Depay – signed from PSV Eindhoven for Â£25m – as Van Gaal’s second new recruit this summer.
United’s imminent capture of the Frenchman would seem to signal the end of their pursuit of Germany World Cup-winner Bastian Schweinsteiger at Bayern Munich.
Van Gaal had hoped to be reunited with Schweinsteiger, whom he turned from a winger into a central midfielder when he was in charge of Bayern.
But the 30-year-old looks set to stay put, with club legend Franz Beckenbauer claiming he would be making a big mistake if he joined United.
“I would advise him not to go to England,” said Beckenbauer. “He can stay here. This challenge, at his age, it’s not what he needs.
“I would play one or two more years in Munich – at this high level. And then, if he still wants to and if he still feels like playing football is the thing, he can make a step back and maybe go to the USA.
“In New York, Cosmos is searching for players, also Red Bull. So I think if he, as a world champion, goes to New York or another club in Major League Soccer, that would greatly improve the standing of football there.” – Mirror