Manchester United's hopes of signing Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman this month have been boosted after AS Roma president James Pallotta admitted he would consider a "stupid" offer for the player.
Strootman, 24, is understood to be Louis van Gaal's top transfer target - and United are prepared to make a £30 million for the holding midfielder, who returned from an eight-month injury lay-off in November, within the coming weeks.
But the Red Devils may need to significantly increase their opening offer in order to stand any realistic chance of signing the Netherlands international this month, judging by Pallotta's latest comments.
Pallotta: Man United must pay 'stupid' money
"We want to put the best team on the pitch, that's the most important thing," he told reporters. "But we're businessmen. If someone comes in with a stupid number for a player, you have to listen to it.
"My view is that I don't want Kevin to go, for example, but if someone offers a huge amount, you at least have to listen to them.
"You're running a team, so you have to look at what's best for everyone, not just one individual."
Van Gaal a huge fan
Van Gaal has instructed Manchester United scouts to run the rule over Strootman after the player made his long-awaited return from injury two months ago.
And while the Dutchman is still working his way back to top form, the Red Devils appear confident that Strootman will return to his very best before long. Furthermore, the Premier League giants seem confident that the player will avoid a recurrence of the serious knee injury which saw him miss the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Prior to his injury, Strootman was the man Van Gaal built his midfield around while in charge of the Dutch national team.
The Manchester United boss is now ready to make Strootman the key midfielder at Old Trafford, ahead of the likes of Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick.
Other clubs keen
But Van Gaal will be acutely aware that failure to meet AS Roma's asking price could allow another club to pip them to Strootman's signature.
Chelsea and Arsenal are two of the clubs keen to sign the player - although Italian football agent Matteo Materazzi told reporters last month that Manchester United are "one step away" from landing the sought-after former PSV Eindhoven star.