Manchester United "dream" of teaming Jose Mourinho alongside Barcelona talisman Neymar next season as they look to combat Manchester City following the announcement they'll appoint Pep Guardiola as manager.
Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich to lead the Citizens at the end of this season, and Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport reported the Red Devils hope to see Mourinho at their helm with Neymar as his "star man," (h/t Metro's George Bellshaw). An extract read:
Manchester United dream of Jose Mourinho and Neymar leading the charge against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City next season. United’s hierarchy are concerned about the Spanish coach’s arrival and believe action needs to be taken.
United are believed to have the cash to sign Neymar but a deal remains some way off.
Bellshaw added that a deal for Mourinho to take over at Old Trafford has supposedly been agreed already, with the Old Trafford faithful losing much of their faith in incumbent boss Louis van Gaal.
A signing like Neymar would go a long way to restoring loyalty among fans, but after seeing the team demonstrate a lacklustre style under their Dutch boss, some supporters may still wish to see a change of manager.
A chorus of boos and jeers rang around the Theatre of Dreams at the full-time whistle of United's 1-0 home defeat to Southampton in January, but the Red Devils have since gone on a two-game winning streak.
The loss to the Saints—United's sixth of the Premier League campaign—intensified rumours that axed Chelsea manager Mourinho could take over at Old Trafford before Van Gaal's contract expires in June 2017.
However, James Robson of the Manchester Evening News suggested other clubs could still recruit the former Chelsea boss:
James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN
Mourinho to United rumours will continue until he gets another job - the question is whether that will be at United2/4/2016, 1:41:02 PM
ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney reported on Thursday that Mourinho's representatives were "increasingly confident" the Portuguese will take over as Van Gaal's successor in the summer.
Manchester City have sent shivers through the Premier League hierarchy by announcing their appointment of Guardiola, and United may need a big name of their own to rival that move.
The Red Devils certainly have substantial transfer funds, it seems, after Neymar's father, Neymar Sr., told Spanish radio station Esports COPE it was United who offered to pay his son's €190 million (£144.4 million) release clause last summer (h/t Sport).
Neymar and his father are currently under investigation by Spanish authorities following allegations of corruption and tax evasion. The latter told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser last November the hounding of his son could mean the 24-year-old eventually leaves the Camp Nou for pastures new (h/t Sky Sports).
Those comments will have undoubtedly boosted United's hopes of one day landing the Brazilian, who was recently compared alongside team-mate Lionel Messi in a Sport infographic, per Sky Sports correspondent Paulo Freitas:
Paulo Freitas @Cynegeticus
Interesting infographic from @sport comparing Neymar & Messi at age 24 (2011 in Messi case, today in Neymar case) https://t.co/zY9jAEqwME2/5/2016, 8:55:55 AM
Mourinho may have left Chelsea under a gloomy banner, but United are reportedly willing to invest in his cause and give the tactician what he needs to craft a new era of success at Old Trafford.
Similarly, having the opportunity to work under such a revered figure may see at least some of Neymar's attention fixed at United, as his tax troubles in Spain continue to sow doubt in his Barcelona future.