Despite Villa declaring he wants to stay in Spain, the Mirror says Ferguson is on red alert to make a £40million bid for Villa after Barcelona opened the auction last night.
The canny Old Trafford chief - back from a break in France - has been monitoring the Villa race since he sold Ronaldo and passed on Tevez. And now he's going in with a rival bid.
Villa flew back from the Confederations Cup yesterday keen to sort out his future and United hope they can speak to him next week - or at least have the chase resolved.
They will have to convince the player, though. He said recently: "Next season I will play in Spain because it is the league that is best for me."