Manchester United have joined Premier League rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton and Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain in the increasingly crowded battle to sign OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, according to reports.
The Guardian suggests that United are ready to go head-to-head this summer with City, who are said to have initiated preliminary talks with the player's camp this week as Pep Guardiola seeks to secure long-term replacements for Fernandinho and Yaya Toure.
Such speculation comes merely hours after Chelsea were rumoured to have entered the Seri sweepstake, with manager Antonio Conte having failed to be impressed by Tiemoue Bakayoko's patchy form at Stamford Bridge since the French international arrived amid much fanfare in July.
The 26-year-old was also heavily linked with Barcelona throughout the previous transfer window after being identified as a viable alternative to Marco Verratti and, according to Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere, a €40m (£30.8m, $42.8m) deal was agreed before the Catalan giants pulled the plug on Seri's "dream" at the 11th hour with seemingly no proper explanation.
It was later suggested that Barcelona withdrew from negotiations in order to focus on their respective pursuits of PSG's Angel Di Maria and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, the latter of whom finally sealed a lucrative £142m switch to the Nou Camp earlier this month.
Seri, an integral member of the Nice side that finished third under Lucien Favre last term and qualified for the Champions League play-off round before entering the Europa League, said he "turned the page" on that saga as soon as the deadline passed and it is claimed that he now has his heart set on joining an English team, ideally one involved in European football's premier club competition.
A reported £35m release clause in a contract that is due to expire in 2019 makes a possible deal for the Ivorian seem very affordable indeed in the current financial climate.
This season, Seri, who arrived in France from Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira in 2015, has made 25 appearances across all competitions, registering one goal and five assists as sixth-place Nice have gone from potential surprise relegation candidates to pushing for a top-five berth in Ligue 1 thanks to a seven-match unbeaten streak.
United, whose part-exchange deal for Alexis Sanchez that will also see Henrikh Mkhitaryan join Arsenal is likely to be completed in the next 24 hours or so, may need to significantly replenish their central midfield options in the summer with Marouane Fellaini yet to agree an extension to his expiring contract amid interest from several suitors including Turkish champions Besiktas.
Captain Michael Carrick - who has made just one appearance so far this term with an initially mysterious absence later revealed to be caused by an irregular heart rhythm that required a cardiac ablation to correct - possibly set to retire and take up a coaching role when his latest 12-month extension runs out in June.
Everton are also said have been tracking Seri after losing contract rebel Ross Barkley to Chelsea, yet Sam Allardyce seems to be focused on strengthening other areas of his underperforming squad at present after sanctioning deals for attacking duo Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott.