Juan Manuel Iturbe is set to sign for Porto at the turn of his 18th birthday with a view to an eventual move to Manchester United.
The 17-year-old South American starlet - dubbed the ‘next Messi’ in his homeland, is being eyed by Sir Alex Ferguson as a long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs.
The People reports that Iturbe has turned down offers from a number of top European clubs in favour of Porto, with insiders suggesting that the close relationship between the Red Devils and the Portuguese giants had a major part to play in the agreement.
The player’s agent Gustavo Mascardi hammered out a deal that will see Porto pay around £800,000 for his services, with the fee split between Iturbe’s previous two clubs.
An additional signing on fee of £400,000 will be paid to Mascardi directly and shared with his family as an ex-gratia payment – a signal of just how highly the much sought-after midfielder is rated.
It is thought that Iturbe will not stay in Portugal for long with Fergie ready to swoop as soon as he thinks the player has acclimatised to the pressures of European football and is prepared to pay up to £10million to bring him to Old Trafford.
His eventual move to Manchester United could coincide with the retirement of Giggs, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, taking his deal to the summer of 2012.
There have been comparisons made with the controversial transfer of striker Bebe, who went from one Portuguese club to another when agent Jorge Mendes took control of his affairs – and then signed for Manchester United for £7m.
Mendes was the man who also negotiated the deal that saw current United star Anderson move from Porto to Manchester United in 2007.
The Brazilian midfielder was also 18 when he joined the Portuguese side and played just a dozen times for them before completing his move to Old Trafford and has enjoyed relative success with the Red Devils.
If Iturbe follows suit and makes the switch to the red side of Manchester, he will want to emulate the success that has made Anderson a firm fans favourite with the Stretford End choir boys.