Manchester United have bid STG37 million ($A70 million) pounds ($61 million) for Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, the team's first move in the January transfer window.
United are waiting for their Premier League rivals to sign off on the club-record deal for the 25-year-old Spain international, a person close to negotiations said on Thursday.
The transfer would eclipse the STG30.7 million ($A58 million) United paid to sign striker Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham in 2008, and show that the American owners are willing to spend to revitalise a struggling team.
In a sign that Mata's departure from Chelsea is nearing after falling out of favour, the club's player of the year for the past two seasons did not train with the first team on Wednesday.
Signing the 25-year-old Spain midfielder would be a coup for United manager David Moyes and lift some of the gloom surrounding recent performances.
The bright spot is still remaining in Champions League contention going into the round of 16 against Olympiakos next month.
But they sit seventh in the league, 14 points behind leaders Arsenal, and facing a fight to secure one of the four Champions League places.
Having already exited the FA Cup, United missed out on a spot in the League Cup final on Wednesday when Sunderland won a penalty shootout at Old Trafford.
One fan was so distressed about the loss that he called an emergency number and asked to speak to former manager Alex Ferguson, who retired in May after more than 26 trophy-filled years in charge of United.
"Last night, at approximately 10.30pm a man from the Crumpsall area of north Manchester rang 999 in a drunken state demanding to speak to Sir Alex Ferguson about last night's result," Greater Manchester Police said on one of its Facebook pages.
"Obviously, it can be a sad and depressing moment when your football team loses a game, however can we all please remember that 999 is to be used for emergencies only."