MANCHESTER UNITED will this week make Sporting Lisbon a formal £51million offer for midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

United have been locked in talks with the Portuguese club this week as they desperately try to sign a midfielder to strengthen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

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The 25-year-old has an £85m release clause in his contract although Sporting have suggested they would be prepared to sell if an offer of £60m came in.

But United believe they can drive the price down for Fernandes and will come in with a lower bid to test Sporting’s resolve.

Fernandes has emerged as the player Solskjaer is targeting in January having found Leicester unwilling to entertain any interest in James Maddison.

The Old Trafford club have employed a scattergun approach through this window by enquiring about a number of players they have scouted to see if anyone would be open to doing business.

That policy saw them approach Inter Milan last week to ask about Croatian international Marcelo Mrozovic, but the Italian club dismissed their request out of hand.

Sporting officials are understood to be in London meeting Ed Woodward to thrash out the terms of the transfer, although it is understood they are still a little apart when it comes to figures and payment schedules.

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United are also in a battle to keep skipper Ashley Young, as Inter opened talks with the full-back about moving to Italy at the end of the season when his current contract at Old Trafford runs out.

The 34-year-old is able to talk to clubs this month and sign a pre-contract agreement committing himself to a new club while playing out the remainder of the current campaign for United.

United offered Young a one-year contract extension but the player declined as he looks to force through a move to the Serie A.

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