Manchester United has agreed a club-record fee of 35.2 million pounds with Inter for the transfer of Wesley Sneijder and sportswear giant Nike has emerged key to completing the deal, Goal.com can exclusively reveal.
Nevertheless, the Premier League champions are hoping to reach a compromise over the 30,000-pounds-a-week difference as the prospect of a switch that would smash United's transfer record grows increasingly likely.
Portland-based Nike sponsors Sneijder and supplies the the Red Devils' kit and could be ready to step in and pay a percentage of the Dutchman's wages to ensure the transfer goes through.
"If Nike wants you to move then you will move. Nike wants Sneijder to Manchester United because it is easier for them to use him as a commercial icon," a source told Goal.com.
Nike did the same when Brazilian striker Ronaldo made his move from Barcelona to Inter while its commercial rival Adidas, which sponsor Real Madrid, was heavily involved in smoothing through the transfers of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham to the Bernabeu.
Senior officials from the two clubs are understood to have shaken hands on the terms of the deal after United chief executive David Gill made it clear Manchester United is willing to meet Inter's asking price in a series of meetings in recent days.
United has confirmed that Gill was in Zurich on Wednesday, where an Inter delegation was also present, to attend a European Club Association meeting but an Inter source told Goal.com that he had been in Milan on Tuesday and early Wednesday to lead Sneijder negotiations with another Old Trafford director.
United's focus will now turn to agreeing personal terms with the Holland international, who is regarded by the club as a natural heir to the recently retired Paul Scholes. An official bid will follow if the 19-times English champions are confident they can meet the player's demands.
It is believed that the 2011 Champions League finalists could attempt to meet the shortfall in the two parties' positions with bonus-related payments or an enhanced image rights deal.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson denied the imminent arrival of Sneijder during the team's trip to the United States as part of the World Football Challenge.
"There is no real interest in Sneijder at this moment in time for a lot of reasons," he said. "I’ve not been involved in that since I came over here."
Sneijder is currently at Inter's preseason training camp at Pinzolo in Italy. The deal will now depend on his desire to force through a move to Old Trafford, which offers him an excellent chance to add to an already impressive medal haul which includes domestic titles in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, in addition to the 2010 Champions League.
He has a contract at San Siro that expires in 2015 and would be content to see it out if a transfer fails to materialise this summer, hence his reluctance to agitate in public for a move.
New Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini has told the Inter hierarchy that he does not see the Holland star as indispensable as he prepares to field a new 3-4-3 formation next season.
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