Manchester United are set to make a £32 million offer for Lucas Moura after Sao Paulo rejected their latest bid of £27.2m, Goal.com has learned.
The Brazilian club have claimed that United made a “very important offer of €35m [£27.2m]” for their 19-year-old attacking midfielder.
Sources have indicated that the Red Devils’ bid was made on Thursday and that the club are now expected to return with a final offer, which they are confident will be enough to seal the deal.
Lucas, who was part of the Brazil squad that beat Great Britain in a warm-up match for the Olympics on Friday night, is viewed by Sir Alex Ferguson as the ideal candidate for the playmaker role that he tried to fill with Eden Hazard before the Belgian moved to Chelsea at the start of the transfer window.
United were willing to pay £32m for Hazard before being beaten to his signature by the more lucrative salary package on offer at Stamford Bridge.
It is understood that the same sum is available to United to sign Lucas, but the Old Trafford club are not willing to go beyond that figure.
United are confident that the Portuguese-speaking enclave of Nani, Anderson and Rafael Da Silva would ensure a smooth adaptation period but are mindful that, should Lucas enjoy a reputation-enhancing Olympic tournament, he could be priced out of their reach if they do not come to a swift agreement.
“Manchester United made a very important offer of €35m but they would need to produce a little more,” Sao Paulo director Marco Aurelio Cunha Cunha was quoted as saying by TuttoMercatoWeb.
“For us there is only Neymar worth more, after him is Lucas and we would not want to sell for less than this sort of value. For us it is still better to have a good player than lots of money in the bank.”