Manchester United are making plans for a big-money move for Mario Gotze next summer and are ready to put 50 per cent of their massive 2015 transfer budget towards a deal for the Bayern Munich playmaker.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Louis van Gaal will be handed a mouth-watering £100 million to spend at the end of the season in the hope of strengthening the first-team squad significantly enough to make the Red Devils genuine Premier League title contenders again in 2015/16.
The Dutch coach has already been credited with an interest in a variety of high-profile players, but a report in the Daily Star today suggests that Gotze is right at the top of his shortlist with a £50 million switch to Old Trafford believed to be in the pipeline.
In order to complete the marquee signing Manchester United must qualify for the Champions League, so failure to finish in the top four this term will almost certainly end any chance of the 22-year-old quitting the Bundesliga champions next year.
Pep Guardiola is understood to be a huge fan of the Germany international, but Gotze's desire to work with Van Gaal could prompt a surprise departure from the Allianz Arena, irrespective of how much football he plays with the Bavarian club between now and the end of the season.
Gotze has made 17 appearances and scored nine goals for Bayern this term, but could be open to a fresh challenge abroad, as long as he is guaranteed participation in Europe's elite club competition.
The prospect of the World Cup winning midfielder - who scored the decisive goal in the showpiece final in Brazil during the summer - lining up alongside the likes of Angel di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao at Old Trafford is enough to send Manchester United fans into overdrive, especially given the array of other world-class talent being linked with a transfer to the Theatre of Dreams.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has already stated that there are unlikely to be any major changes to the playing staff during the January window, which suggests the Red Devils are busy with more long-term planning to give them the best possible chance of recruiting Gotze and other players they want next summer.