LONDON • Jose Mourinho is expected to sign a three-year deal to become the new Manchester United manager today.
The club's executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, was set to meet Jorge Mendes, the representative of Mourinho, in London yesterday to finalise the Portuguese's contract to replace Louis van Gaal.
The hope is for the terms to be agreed and signed by tonight, though there is a recognition from both parties Mourinho may not officially take over until the latter part of the week.
The 53-year-old is expected to earn in excess of the £7.5 million (S$15.1 million) a year salary he earned at Chelsea before being axed in December.
Mendes' status as one of football's most powerful agents, and who acts for many players of interest to Mourinho, will aid the incoming boss as he seeks to strengthen United's squad.
Outgoing Paris Saint-Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Mario and Everton defender John Stones are reportedly among the names on his wanted list.
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Despite multiple failed bids to sign the Everton centre-back for Chelsea, Mourinho is determined to work with Stones. Chelsea, however, remain interested in the England international, who is valued at over £40 million, while Manchester City are also keen on the 21-year-old.
Should Mourinho miss out on Stones again, he could turn to Varane. The Portuguese was the manager who handed Varane a Real Madrid first-team debut at the age of 18, but the French international is no longer a starter at the Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos and Pepe form current Real manager Zinedine Zidane's preferred central defensive partnership, and Varane, 23, has already indicated that he wants more game time.
The Sweden striker has been strongly tipped to be Mourinho's first signing, with the free agent reportedly set to ink a one-year deal. Ibrahimovic, 34, and Mourinho won the Serie A together at Inter Milan and have maintained a mutal admiration. He scored 156 goals during his four-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain and will cost United around £250,000 a week in wages.
Real Madrid are expected to activate their £23.6 million buyback clause from Juventus and listen to offers for the 23-year-old, who has won two Serie A titles. Morata, an Arsenal target, is expected to cost around £40 million and would favour a move to United if Mourinho is in charge.
The Sporting Lisbon midfielder has a release clause in his contract and will be available for £47 million. He already has eight caps for Portugal at the age of 23, and has impressed this season with his work rate, incisive passing and ability to quicken the pace of attacks.
Mourinho has to do so without the attraction of Champions League football, after van Gaal took the club to fifth position, in his second season. The Dutchman was dismissed on Monday, 48 hours after guiding them to the FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley.
It is understood that Woodward told van Gaal on Sunday that he was sacking him because he was concerned that the club's fans were becoming increasingly angry about the team's turgid style of play.
The 64-year-old was said to be surprised by his dismissal. Van Gaal has waived compensation deals in the past and he was originally willing to do so at United, but it is understood that he was so annoyed about the manner of his dismissal that he demanded a payoff. Woodward agreed a severance package of £4.55 million on Monday.
In a statement on Monday night, van Gaal said: "I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan.
"I believe the foundations are in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success."
With the exception of Ryan Giggs, his backroom staff - Albert Stuivenberg, Frans Hoek, Jos van Dijk, Marcel Bout and Max Reckers - have all followed him out of Old Trafford, reported the Daily Mail.
Van Gaal's No. 2 Giggs has been offered a role on Mourinho's coaching staff - believed to be a more junior position than being assistant manager - but could still decide to end a 25-year association with the club.
The Welshman, who has 12 months left on his contract and harbours ambitions to be a manager, has told United that he wants to continue as a senior member of the coaching team.
Mourinho is likely to want to bring his long-term assistant Rui Faria to the club.
The Portuguese's impending appointment has continued to polarise opinion among United fans and legends alike.
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel believes Mourinho is the right man to get the club back on track.
"They have a guy that is supposed to be the biggest manager in the world, the one that really could save Manchester United," the Dane told the BBC.
"It has been a brave decision but one that is long overdue."
But former striker Eric Cantona does not think the tactically defensive coach is the right fit for the club.
"I love Jose Mourinho, but in terms of the type of football he plays I don't think he is Manchester United," said the Frenchman.
"I love his personality, I love the passion he has for the game, his humour. He is very intelligent, he demands 100 per cent of his players. And of course he wins things.
"But I don't think it's the type of football that the fans of Manchester United will love, even if they win."
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE