Jack Grealish is ready to join Manchester United - with the outline of a deal already approved by the Aston Villa star - but formal transfer talks between the two clubs have not yet taken place.
The 24-year-old stayed out of the transfer picture in January - as boyhood heroes Villa seek to avoid relegation back to the Championship - but he is widely expected to move on at the end of the season.
He is understood to have begun house-hunting in anticipation of a transfer to the record English champions and a long-term contract at United would be worth far north of the reported £100,000-per-week deal he currently has at Villa Park.
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His seven goals and five assists have been integral for Villa this season, with one of those goals a fantastic effort in the draw at Old Trafford back in December.
United have jumped to the head of the queue for Grealish with the future of Paul Pogba still up in the air. The club are resigned to losing the Frenchman in the next transfer window although it would still take some £150 million ($193m) to prise him away, with one year left on his contract and United holding the option to extend by a further season.
The Red Devils are ready to use a portion of the proceeds of any deal for Pogba into a transfer for Grealish, who fits the profile for the kind of homegrown British talent that United have signed in the past few transfer windows.
Players like Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James have arrived at Old Trafford with the expectation of replenishing the ranks, while executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward seeks to remove older earners in decline from the wage bill.
Pogba is currently out of action after a surgery and while it is anticipated that he will return to first team action in order to gain match fitness for Euro 2020 this summer, they are likely to be his final games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
United signed Bruno Fernandes for an initial £46.5 million ($60m) from Sporting Lisbon in January, but he is not the only player designated to improve the team’s attacking options. Once Pogba leaves, likely to Real Madrid or Juventus, there will be room for another attacking player.
Grealish has been linked with United for much of the season but Fernandes was seen as the easiest winter target to secure with Sporting happy to sell at the right price.
The England prospect has now moved ahead of James Maddison on the list of summer targets for United, as the Leicester City playmaker is set to sign a new deal to extend his stay at the King Power Stadium.
Having been left on the back foot for most of the winter transfer window, it appears that United are now laying the groundwork for a more efficient summer period, which will be disrupted by players going on international duty.
Grealish’s arrival would give Solskjaer another attacking option as he can play as a winger on either flank, and can also operate behind the striker.
Jesse Lingard may also leave in the summer after employing Mino Raiola as his new agent.