Manchester United will make a £48 million offer to Real Madrid for their world-class winger Angel di Maria - but are in danger of being pipped to the Argentina international's signature by Paris Saint-Germain, who have already submitted a bid of the same value.
United must act quickly to prevent the South American joining the reigning French champions, according to the Express. But Real Madrid have warned the Red Devils that they must meet their £56 million valuation in order to sign the versatile playmaker.
Di Maria tops Van Gaal's summer wish-list
After missing out on Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez, who will join Arsenal in the coming days, United boss Louis van Gaal is determined not to miss out on securing a deal for Di Maria.
It was revealed on Wednesday that the veteran Dutch coach is actively monitoring the revered winger, who has an outside chance of being fit for Sunday's World Cup final against Germany at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Van Gaal is also keen to bring Germany defender Mats Hummels to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund this summer. However, he is not expected to be in attendance at the Maracana this weekend, with Netherlands in action against World Cup hosts Brazil in Brasilia 24 hours earlier.
Angel di Maria v Manchester United
Real Madrid keen for quick sale?
European champions Real Madrid are determined to bolster their squad with the acquisitions of AS Monaco and Colombia duo James Rodiguez, who is in line to secure the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot, and Radamel Falcao.
In order to avoid falling foul of UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, Real Madrid must sell players in order to balance the books. Offloading Di Maria for close to £50 million should allow the Champions League winners to purchase their two main transfer targets without incurring any punishment.
PSG, though, received a £20 million fine in May for FFP breaches and will be hit even harder next time if found guilty against of ignoring UEFA's latest regulations. A big-money deal for Di Maria could leave them vulnerable once more.
Van Gaal has plenty left to spend
Manchester United have already completed deals for Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera and England international left-back Luke Shaw for a combined fee close to £60 million.
However, Van Gaal still has most of his £200 million transfer budget available to spend on quality additions. Along with Di Maria, Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal has also been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford over the past couple of weeks.
The Chile international - a classy, all-action central midfielder - is arguably needed more by the 20-time English champions than Arsenal target Di Maria. Van Gaal will have plenty of options for the wide-left position on arrival at Old Trafford, including gifted Belgium international Adnan Januzaj.
But that will not stop Van Gaal from giving the green light for United to press on and submit the club-record £48 million offer for the man widely regarded as being among Europe's top wingers.