Manchester United have hatched a plan devised to get around work permit laws and have more young South American talent in their squad - and it involves some negotiations in Belgium.
It is being reported in the Belgian press that Old Trafford officials are in talk with their counterparts at Jupiler Pro League side AA Gent in a bid to lay out the guidelines for an arrangement that could see both clubs get use of the best young talent going in world football.
Currently it is very difficult to get a work permit for a youngster from a non-EU country in the UK
Louis van Gaal has South American stars Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Marcos Rojo in his squad, but the they were not cheap in the slightest - Di Maria's switch from Real Madrid took a club record fee in the region of £60million, while Falcao's wages are astronomical.
Although it is less certain, getting the players while they are young is a much cheaper option and Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws claim that negotiations between Gent and Manchester United are well under way.
These talks are aimed at getting a partnership together similar to that of one the Red Devils had with another Belgian club, Royal Antwerp, previously. That partnership eventually failed after Antwerp suffered relegation ten years ago and have been languishing in the second division since.
Article continues below
HLN claim that the partnership with Gent will work similarly to that with Antwerp, though the focus will be on the purchasing of talented youngsters from countries like Brazil, Argentina or Columbia and using the less stringent work permit rules in Belgium to have them train there.
Currently it is very difficult to get a work permit for a youngster from a non-EU country in the UK, with international caps usually the prerequisite. With this partnership, Manchester United can purchase the player they want, send them on loan to Gent and, if they make the grade, take them back to Old Trafford.
Young players from United will also be able to go on loan to Belgium as part of the deal - Jonny Evans and John O'Shea did so with the previous one - and United get an advantage in any negotiations if another talented Belgian emerges there.
Van Gaal already has two Belgium internationals at his disposal in the form of Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj. The latter was snapped up for the Old Trafford youth ranks a couple of seasons ago after breaking through at Gent's rivals Anderlecht.