Manchester United are ready to close a deal for Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder this week - so long as he drops his personal demands. The Mail on Sunday says Sneijder has been United's No 1 target all summer and an Old Trafford source said last night: "Wesley is obviously a top player and we would love to sign him."
But United have insisted that he has to drop his £250,000-a-week pay demands if he wants to become their latest signing, following the £55m they have already spent on goalkeeper David de Gea, defender Phil Jones and winger Ashley Young.
Sneijder favours a move to Old Trafford rather than taking up an alternative offer from Spanish club Malaga, who are now funded by Sheik Al Thani, of the Qatari royal family.
Sources close to negotiations say they expect significant progress on a move to Old Trafford this week. A deal would take United's summer spending to a record £90m.
Agreeing the fee with Inter could yet be a problem and delay the move, but the Italian club are understood to be searching for Sneijder's replacement.
The big stumbling block to any deal is the 27-year-old Dutch World Cup star's £170,000-a-week San Siro wages.
Because of Britain's higher tax rates, United would need to dig deep - far exceeding the £220,000 a week they pay top earner Wayne Rooney - to match Sneijder's current net earnings.
United would not countenance paying Sneijder more than Rooney, given the struggle there was to agree a contract with the England striker last autumn when he threatened to leave the club.
The Old Trafford source said: "It will be a question of whether Wesley will accept a salary which puts him on the same level as Wayne."