MANCHESTER UNITED are closing in on Sporting Lisbon star Joao Mario.
Old Trafford bosses have held a series of talks with the 23-year-old Portugal international and his representatives and are confident of striking a deal.
Mario has a £45m release clause in his contract and the Red Devils are willing to meet it and hand him a long-term deal worth around £140,000 a week.
However, fresh reports suggest United will have to pay £47m for the midfielder as Sporting have increased their demands.
United have turned to Mario after missing out on Benfica ace Renato Sanches who chose instead to move to Bayern Munich.
The Daily Star reports: “Mario is aware United want to sign him when the transfer window reopens.
“That’s regardless of whether Louis van Gaal is in charge or not.
“Sporting chief Bruno de Carvalho is reluctant to sell Mario but he is powerless to keep him if United meet the asking price – and Mario himself wants out.”
The fact Mario is keen to join United and test himself in the Premier League regardless of who is in charge is a big boost for the Old Trafford outfit.
However, Red Devils fans will be wary as far too often during Edward Woodward’s reign as chief executive, big name moves that have appeared ‘all but done’ have failed to arrive.
Mario has made 37 appearances in all competitions for Sporting this term, scoring seven goals, and is expected to be part of Fernando Santos’s Portugal side for Euro 2016.
Will Mario sign for United?