Manchester United have spoken to Ajax’s highly rated coach Erik ten Hag about their vacant manager’s job.
Ralf Rangnick has been doing the job on an interim basis since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November.
It is being stressed at Old Trafford that it is too early to start talking about favourites for the job, although the club do want to conclude the process as soon as possible.
Paris St-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is also on a shortlist.
Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui also has his admirers at United, as does Spain coach Luis Enrique, although the likelihood of him agreeing to take a club job before the World Cup later this year is thought to be slim.
United are keeping across the situation at Chelsea, although German manager Thomas Tuchel has given no indication publicly he is thinking about walking out on the Blues, despite their present predicament.
Ten Hag, like Pochettino, has a contract to 2023.
However, that is unlikely to prove an obstacle should United decide the Dutchman, 52, is the right man for the job.
A former coach with Bayern Munich’s second team, Ten Hag has been at Ajax since December 2017 and guided them to within a minute of reaching the Champions League final in 2019 before Lucas Moura’s famous goal for Tottenham.
The fact many of the players who were part of that Ajax squad have not achieved the same success elsewhere is a measure of his coaching abilities.
Ajax won the Dutch league title in 2019 and 2021 and are currently top of the table by two points from PSV Eindhoven.
Whoever gets the United job faces a big summer, with Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata all out of contract.
In addition, a number of senior players have uncertain futures, including Cristiano Ronaldo, although it is not entirely clear who would be willing to take on the 37-year-old’s enormous wages.
At the end of the season, Rangnick is set to stay at Old Trafford for an additional two years in a consultancy role.
And having previously worked in the Bundesliga, Ten Hag has said he “loves the German model” of having sporting directors working closely with the first-team coach.
“Ralf Rangnick knows his relationship with Erik ten Hag will be very strong because of the past they have together and the relationship they already have compared to Pochettino, who might not want him there and who he doesn’t really know.
“I still feel like Ten Hag is a bigger risk and a bigger gamble than Pochettino.
“It could also be someone else, but I still think Pochettino because he knows the league, he is slightly more experienced in terms of Premier League years than Erik ten Hag. That has to give him a little edge.”