Conflicting speculation regarding the future of Jose Mourinho continues to abound, with the latest reports claiming that the disgruntled Portuguese has held "extensive" negotiations over a contract extension at Manchester United.
The notoriously restless Mourinho has cut an increasingly frustrated figure of late amid a run of disappointing festive form, a growing list of absentees, an ugly public row with United legend turned pundit Paul Scholes and complaints over the club's perceived lack of spending power - particularly in relation to rivals and dominant Premier League leaders Manchester City - despite lavishing close to £300m ($406.3m) on new recruits since arriving in the North West.
Indeed, The Mail suggested late on Wednesday night (3 January) there was a growing fear inside Old Trafford that he would not remain in charge next season, with the increasing frequency of his trips back home to London cited as a particular worry in addition to public comments over transfers that appear to put him in direct conflict with the board.
However, The Telegraph now report that the two parties have actually been engaged in detailed talks over an extension to an initial three-year, £12m-a-season contract that is due to expire in the summer of 2019 and includes the option of a further 12 months, with United said to view Mourinho's desire to hold those discussions as a sign that he wants to stay put.
The publication states that the 54-year-old's representative - so-called super-agent Jorge Mendes - and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have engaged in "thorough" talks.
Former Chelsea favourite Mourinho won three trophies - the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League - during a productive first season in charge at United after being appointed as successor to the unpopular Louis van Gaal in May 2016 and ensured that the world's most valuable football club returned to the top table of European competition after a one-year absence despite finishing sixth in the top-flight.
The Red Devils, who host Championship promotion contenders Derby County in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday night, have spent much of the current campaign in second place, but remain 15 points adrift of Pep Guardiola's champions-elect City - whom Mourinho claims have "no limits" as to what they can spend on personnel - after a disappointing run of three successive draws over Christmas that was ended by a 2-0 win at Everton on New Year's Day.
They were also shocked by second-tier Bristol City in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup last month but have safely advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will face La Liga outfit Sevilla.