Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been so impressed with glowing scout reports on young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford that he's ready to sanction a January bid for the exciting stopper.
Pickford has spent the first part of the campaign on loan from Sunderland at League One club Bradford City, gaining experience that could well have earned him a shock move to Old Trafford if the Daily Star's recall of a story in The Sun holds any weight.
The Mackems stopper is a regular for England at under-19 level and has risen through the ranks at his boyhood club Sunderland to become one of their most promising prospects, with plenty of Football League exposure under his belt already at the tender age of 20.
Bradford is the starlet's fifth loan club in the last two years, with Darlington, Burton Albion and Carlisle United all aiding the development of a keeper who Van Gaal is considering as a long-term understudy to David de Gea.
Cut-price deal could be done in January
Sunderland only secured Pickford's long-term future in the summer with a new four-year contract, but would not stand in his way if United do came calling and are likely to accept any formal offer in the region of £2 million.
It's interesting that Van Gaal has instructed United scouts to take a look at another keeper, particularly with Anders Lindegaard now firmly established as a perennial bench warmer thanks to De Gea's fantastic form over the last 12 months.
Lindegaard was once a serious challenger to De Gea for top billing at the Theatre of Dreams, but that position has been changed by the consistent Spaniard and it looks like the Danish international will move on soon in search of regular first-team football.
Ben Amos is further down the pecking order, but Van Gaal has one eye on the long-term and is thought to have identified Pickford as a talent capable of making the grade in the Premier League and definitely one to watch for the future.
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