Manchester United are openly courting the idea of launching a late bid for Alexis Sanchez, the Barcelona star who has quickly become the summer's most coveted player thanks to serious interest from Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus. News of Red Devils interest comes from the Manchester Evening News, who believe Louis van Gaal is a huge admirer of the wing wizard and may turn that interest into a formal bid imminently.
Sanchez looks surplus to requirements at Barca despite scoring a fantastic 19 goals in La Liga last season, with Liverpool and Arsenal in particular desperate to offer the 25-year-old a fresh challenge in the Premier League.
Juventus are also still confident that the lure of turning the Serie A kings into genuine Champions League contenders is strong enough to make them favourites for his signature, but they hadn't counted on new interest from United.
What a tease
United's interest has yet to result in a formal offer, with Arsenal currently leading the race despite having an initial £22m offer rejected because Sanchez is thought to favour a move to London.
Barca have their heart set on partnering controversial strike star Luis Suarez with Neymar and Lionel Messi in a South American trio of terror, which means there's no room for Sanchez and a summer switch across the continent is very much.
Sanchez is currently enjoying a well-deserved break after a fleeting but fantastic effort at the World Cup for Chile, which was ended in heartbreaking fashion by Brazil last Saturday.
The versatile forward missed a penalty in the nerve-shredding shootout which decided that last 16 showdown, but after the pain of that defeat subsides the matter of sorting out his long-term future must be sorted out urgently.
Liverpool were the first club to sound out Barca over interest in signing the clinical finisher before the World Cup even began, but Juve and Arsenal were quick to join the bandwagon and approach Sanchez's agent directly with offers of lucrative terms.
Making your mind up
Barca will be delighted that United are now considering a concrete offer and will hope a summer auction involving four European giants drives the price up well beyond £22m, so they can immediately reinvest the funds in a deal for Suarez and a new top-class central defender.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger still believes Arsenal represent the best fit for Sanchez thanks to the lure of London and the chance to build something new and exciting alongside Mesut Ozil and co, but United are also embarking on a fresh challenge under Van Gaal and have already proved this summer they are not afraid to splash the cash.
United have spent in excess of £50m to secure the services of Ander Herrara and Luke Shaw and Sanchez would fit a similar profile of player, hungry and ready to buy into Van Gaal's demanding methods over a sustained period.
Barca still waiting
Ultimately Sanchez will have to play the waiting game while Barca wait for the best possible offer before sanctioning his sale, but with a third Premier League side now in the race the prospect of a genuine world-beater playing in England next season now looks increasingly realistic.