By John Marshall
Premier League giants Manchester United are set to hold off rivals Arsenal with a £70m bid for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund as the Reds push on with recruitment plans regardless of the identity of the manager next season.
Arsenal have fallen back in the race for the Dortmund striker and are not expected to challenge United as the fee could rise to £70million, which would wipe out Arsene Wenger’s transfer budget for the summer.
Even though the Gabon international, who was born in France, is under contract to Dortmund until 2020, it is understood he is keen on a potential move to United and a bid is expected at the end of the season.
Aubameyang is chasing Robert Lewandowski to be top scorer in the Bundesliga and has 22 goals this season and has 29 goals in total.
For United, the transfer signings will be just one part of a planned summer overhaul, with a director of football likely to be appointed to modernise the recruitment structure, which has struggled since Ed Woodward took over from David Gill in 2013.
Woodward has spent £250million, with notable, expensive flops being Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao while several deals which have yet to prove their worth, including Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
FA technical director Dan Ashworth is being considered for the role which would see Jim Lawlor retained as chief scout heading up the scouting networks.
The director of football role, for which Ashworth is being considered, would be responsible for negotiating deals and plan for the future.
Next season’s manager will have to work within the new structure even if that is Jose Mourinho. The former Chelsea manager is still in the frame to replace Louis van Gaal at the end of the season with the top four regarded as an absolute minimum requirement by United executives.
Clearly though the squad will need supplementing especially if they have missed out on the Champions League again, although the Aubameyang deal will not hinge on whether United finish in the top four.
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