According to the papers Jose Mourinho has all but signed his contract to replace Louis van Gaal as Manchester United boss at the end of the season.
Some members of the United board have reportedly been reluctant to recruit the Portuguese coach but after seeing neighbours City snap up Pep Guardiola it is thought the Old Trafford top brass see the self-proclaimed Special One as the only option.
Part of Mourinho’s attractiveness is his ability to lure top talent to the Premier League and it appears one of the first tasks on his United to-do list will be the signing of Athletic Bilbao’s French defender Aymeric Laporte.
The 21-year-old is one of a host of defensive options United are looking at – with Raphael Varane and John Stones also on the radar – and is likely to cost the club around £32m.
United have dealt with Bilbao in the past and the drawn-out saga that was the signing of Ander Herrera shows the club will have their work cut out. But with United and Mourinho in particular – having a good relationship with the player’s agent Jorge Mendes, there is hope a swift deal can take place in the summer.
Mendes also represents Mourinho and helped United negotiate deals for Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria as well as the contract that saw goalkeeper David De Gea commit his long term future to the club.
Mourinho has reportedly told close friends that his move to United is as good as done and if this is the case Laporte could be the first of a string of new faces at the club.
United are back in action in the early kick-off this weekend as visitors to Sunderland and go into the game as 3/4 favourites.
The Black Cats can be backed at 15/4 to cause an upset and take a step towards survival, while a share of the spoils is available at 5/2.