Manchester United are close to completing a move for Benfica starlet Renato Sanches in January as club officials met the player's agents in London. Louis van Gaal has proved time and again that he is not shy to spend the money on youngsters and Sanches looks destined to be next in line to take the United legacy forward.
The Daily Mail reports that United want to complete the deal early as the player has attracted interest from a lot of clubs across Europe and can be subject to a bidding war in the summer, which would spruce up the prices. The player has a release clause in the range of £60m ($86m) but United are confident that they can snatch the 18-year-old for half the amount plus add-ons.
The deal is reminiscent of the one that saw Anthony Martial move from Monaco to Old Trafford last season, which could amount to almost £58m ($84m) with add-ons. Renato's primary position is in attacking midfield but he can also play out wide, adding depth in multiple positions in the United hierarchy.
The midfielder broke into the Benfica first team this year, making 11 appearances thus far, scoring two goals in the process. His arrival would add to the rich base of young talent at Old Trafford, with Memphis Depay, Adnan Januzaj and Martial all fighting for a place in the first eleven.
Sanches may be loaned back to Benfica for the rest of the season in a bid to sweeten the deal for the Portuguese club, who are in no hurry to sell. The report states that United scouts were in Benfica to watch Goncalo Guedes and full-back Eliseu but soon turned their attention to Sanches, who has since emerged as the priority target.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal is confident that his team can challenge for the titlefollowing their impressive win over Liverpool last weekend. The Red Devils did a smash and grab job on their arch rivals, who dictated the play for the entirety of the game but were unable to find the back of the net. On the other hand, a header from Marouane Fellaini hit the underside of the bar and was drilled in by Wayne Rooney to break Thierry Henry's record of scoring the highest number of goals for a single club.