Manchester United have been locked in a fierce transfer battle with Valencia for the signature of Argentine star Enzo Perez over the last few months, but it looks like the La Liga giants have come out on top after agreeing a £20m deal with Benfica to sign the central midfielder.
That is according to talkSPORT, who cite sources in Spain in a report that claims Valencia expect to officially confirm a marquee signing as early as next week.
The news will come as a bitter blow to new United boss Louis van Gaal, who is still searching for the kind of dynamic, energetic midfield option that can revitalise an area of his squad that looks particularly week heading into the new campaign.
What Perez offers
If Valencia can indeed get this deal over the line they will sign a proven commodity with experience at both international and club level.
Perez has been a shining star for Benfica over the last two seasons, proving a crucial part of their treble-winning team and attracting a host of admirers across the continent.
The 28-year-old's reputation was enhanced by a string of accomplished displays for Argentina in their run to the World Cup final, but Valencia rather than United are the only club to table a formal offer worth £20m since that tournament concluded and as a result are on the verge of adding steel and style to their ranks.
United's interest in Perez dates back to the disastrous spell under the guidance of David Moyes, but in a story which has become familiar and frustrating to Red Devils fans dithering has seemingly scuppered their chance of closing an important summer transfer.
Benfica's demands have been clear for some time and yet United have kept their options open in search of a more high-profile midfield addition, specifically Juventus star Arturo Vidal.
Red Devils scouts have monitored Perez for months, but that work looks to have been wasted as United chief Ed Woodward moves on to other targets as a matter of urgency.
Perez is a far more attainable option at the peak of his powers, but only a concrete agreement over personal terms now stands in the way of him playing in La Liga next season rather than the Theatre of Dreams.