Manchester United will pay £32 million to sign AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman in January, according to Italian football agent Matteo Materazzi.
Materazzi, the brother of World Cup winner Marco, told Italian outlet Rai that a big-money deal is close to being finalised - and that a fee is already in place.
"Manchester are one step away from Kevin Strootman,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Star. "The British club will pay €40m [£32m] into the coffers of the Giallorossi [Roma]."
Strootman edging closer to United
United’s interest, and Louis van Gaal’s admiration, for Kevin Strootman is no secret. The Red Devils have been strongly linked with the Netherlands international in recent weeks, with reports suggesting United are confident that a deal will go through when the transfer window re-opens next month.
Van Gaal’s hopes of bringing Strootman to Old Trafford were enhanced following Roma’s Champions League exit earlier this month. Had the Italian outfit reached the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition then the 24-year-old holding midfielder would have stayed at the Stadio Olimpico until the end of the season.
Van Gaal a huge fan
But Manchester City, by knocking Roma out of the competition, may have inadvertently allowed their local rivals to sign the midfielder Van Gaal based his side around while in charge of the Netherlands national team.
That was until Strootman suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury in March. Van Gaal was subsequently forced to scrap his tactical plans and start from scratch ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, where the Oranje finished third.
Keen to ensure Strootman had made a full recovery before making a formal offer for the ex-PSV star, Van Gaal opted against making a move for the player in the summer.
Back in action - Old Trafford bound?
But Strootman has now returned to action and Van Gaal appears convinced this is the star Manchester United require to significantly bolster their midfield options - as well as their chances of finishing the season inside the top four.
Strootman, at £32 million, has the potential to be the biggest signing of the January transfer window.
Manchester United are currently third in the Premier League table, 10 points behind Chelsea - who, like Arsenal, have also been linked with Strootman this month - but the acquisition of such a talented player could even enhance their chances of mounting an unlikely tittle challenge in the second of the season.