Manchester United are set to hijack Arsenal's deal to sign Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who is almost certain to leave the French champions either in January or next summer.
This is according to the Daily Star, who cite Italian newspaper Tuttosport as claiming that United will join the race to sign the France Under-21 international along with Juventus and AS Roma in the New Year.
Arsenal could lose out to United
The report states that Arsenal were keen to sign Rabiot in the summer, but a move failed to materialise after the Gunners were quoted £24 million to sign the holding midfielder.
Arsenal hope to enter into talks with Rabiot in January, but they now run the risk of being beaten to his signature by Premier League rivals United.
Rabiot's wage demands
It's understood that Louis van Gaal remains keen to strengthen his central midfield options when the transfer window re-opens in January, and may consider Rabiot a cheaper and more realistic option than either AS Roma's Kevin Strootman and Juventus's Arturo Vidal.
However, it's believed that Rabiot - whose has also been linked with Chelsea and Tottenham - is now demanding a €5 million-a-year salary, which roughly works out at a cool €96,000-a-week.
This is a significant leap from the €2.5 million-a-year (€48,000-a-year) deal that he was reportedly demanding earlier this month.
Whether this will deter Arsenal from making an offer for the PSG ace remains to be seen, but it's unlikely to deter Manchester United, whose top earners earn more than treble that figure.
United have endured poor start to season
The Red Devils have endured a poor start to life under Van Gaal, picking up five points from their opening five matches, despite having spent a total of £146 million in the transfer window.
They were left humiliated by Leicester City, who recorded a shock 5-3 victory over the 20-time English champions, on Sunday and hope to bounce back with a positive performance and a win against West Ham this weekend.
Whether Manchester United offer Rabiot, who is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club in January, a lucrative deal could depend on where the club is positioned in the Premier League table at the end of 2014.
Van Gaal expected to secure top-three finish
United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has set Van Gaal the target of securing a top-three finish. The least he and the Glazer family expect is a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League.
If United are still struggling to pick up points come January, Van Gaal may agree to meet Rabiot's wage demands and PSG's £5.6 million asking price in a bid to rescue something from the season.