Manchester United are poised to hand injured midfielder Michael Carrick a new one-year contract, despite the fact he is yet to make a single competitive performance under Louis van Gaal.
This is according to the Express, who understand that Van Gaal wants the England international to aid the development of summer signing Daley Blind but believes he still has plenty to offer in his own right.
Carrick in advanced talks over new deal
They go on to claim that Carrick is already in advanced talks with the Red Devils over the proposed extension and the deal, potentially worth around £80,000-a-week, could be signed by the end of this week.
News that Van Gaal is keen to extend the former Tottenham star's contract may come as a slight surprise to Manchester United supporters, many of whom are hoping their revered manager spends big on a top-level central midfielder either in January or next summer.
United linked with host of top midfielders
A host of players have been linked with a possible transfer to Old Trafford, including Arturo Vidal of Juventus and AS Roma's Kevin Strootman, but whether Van Gaal makes a formal move for a new midfielder could depend on how Blind and Carrick fare over the next few months.
Manchester United rose to fourth in the Premier League table thanks to Sunday afternoon's 2-1 victory over Everton - and Carrick is not guaranteed a first-team place when he returns from his ankle ligament injury.
Carrick under pressure to prove his worth
The 33-year-old, who picked up Manchester United's Players' Player of the Year award in Sir Alex Ferguson's final season in charge at Old Trafford, was amongst the Red Devils' most disappointing performers last term.
Carrick played 40 matches in all competitions but often failed to control matches in the same manner he had done on countless occasions in previous seasons.
Van Gaal: Carrick will return imminently
The Englishman will be under pressure to perform when he returns from injury, and Van Gaal recently revealed that the midfielder should be back in action after the international break.
United take on West Brom at the Hawthorns on 20 October, before facing Chelsea and Manchester City in consecutive matches.
"[Carrick] is, of course, injured but he is coming back from a heavy injury and he has trained the last two days on a lower level with the second team," the veteran Dutchman told United's official website. "So that is [designed] to make the step easier for him to come back to play in a match because a player who is coming back from a heavy injury also has a little bit of fear to play with resistance.
"So that is why we let him train with the second team for the last two days. I think, after the international break, he can maybe play some minutes but we have to wait and see. He is doing well, better than we had expected."
Does Carrick fit into Van Gaal's system?
How Van Gaal fits Carrick into his new-look system is uncertain at this moment in time. It's possible that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss will drop one of his strikers and partner Carrick alongside Blind and Ander Herrera, with Angel di Maria playing from the left flank and either Antonio Valencia or Adnan Januzaj deployed on the right.
Putting an extra man in midfield could make sense for Manchester United, who have been defensively vulnerable all season, particularly against the Premier League's big boys.
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