LONDON • Manchester United are bracing themselves for a formal approach from Paris Saint-Germain for Angel di Maria, with the French champions hopeful of signing the unsettled Argentina winger.
PSG are expected to open the bidding at about £45 million (S$95.5 million), with an offer possible as early as this week.
United are likely to hold out for closer to the British-record £59.7 million fee that they paid Real Madrid for the player last summer, should manager Louis van Gaal sanction his sale.
Van Gaal would gladly retain di Maria's services, but the manager has long maintained that he would be reluctant to hold the Argentinian against his will, as neither the player nor his wife Cardoso are happy in Manchester.
Moreover, the Dutchman now has 12 midfielders who expect to start following the arrivals of new signings Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay.
Whether picking a side with a three-, four- or five-man midfield, van Gaal will face his biggest dilemma when selecting those in the middle of the park.
Should di Maria stay at Old Trafford, he will also have to compete for a place with the likes of Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj, even if he is not exactly in direct competition with defensive midfielders.
Di Maria and Marcos Rojo were not part of the United squad who arrived in Seattle on Tuesday morning for the first leg of the club's pre-season tour of the United States, after being granted an extended holiday in the wake of their involvement in the Copa America with Argentina.
It is unclear whether the pair will play any part in the tour, although PSG are hopeful of having made a significant breakthrough in their pursuit of di Maria by the time they face United in the Guinness International Champions Cup in Chicago in a fortnight.
PSG have already outlined a five-year contract that would match di Maria's wages of £230,000 a week at United, although they are not prepared to allow Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani to leave as part of any deal.
Bayern Munich are also monitoring di Maria's situation, but the German champions would block any attempt by United to use the Argentinian as leverage in a move for Poland striker Robert Lewandowski.
United remain in the market for a centre-back and have already freed up £30 million from last season's wage bill by off-loading Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Nani, reported the Telegraph.
THE TIMES, LONDON