LONDON - Manchester United have dismissed press reports in the Netherlands that the club had agreed a three-year deal with Louis van Gaal for him to replace the sacked David Moyes as coach.
Popular broadsheet De Telegraaf said Saturday that "the national coach (Van Gaal) late last (Friday) night reached a deal with the top British club," to take over as manager after the World Cup.
"The man who's the absolute number one to replace axed coach David Moyes will immediately take up the job when the Dutch Eleven is knocked out of the World Cup in Brazil," the paper added.
Van Gaal, 62, who has been on holiday at his villa in Portugal's Algarve "has been in talks with Ed Woodward, lawyer for club owners the Glazer brothers for a multi-year, multi-million contract," it said, without citing any sources.
But United, who have put veteran player Ryan Giggs in charge until the end of the season, quickly denied the reports.
"There is nothing to report. We have not signed a new manager. When we have something to report, we will announce it," a club spokesman said.
Any move for Van Gaal would now appear to run against the wishes of former manager Alex Ferguson, a club director who is still hugely influential.
The Scot, whose retirement teed up the appointment of Moyes - a decision he was a driving force behind - on Friday appeared to put his weight behind Giggs getting the job on a full-time basis.
"I think that he [Giggs] is the one man they should go to really," Ferguson said at a charity dinner, according to the Daily Telegraph.
"He's got 20-odd years of experience at Manchester United. I signed him as a kid at 13 years of age. He's gone through the gamut of emotions at the club - he's experienced all the highs and lows." The Dutch press report said that included in the deal would be a 100 million euros (S$173 million) fund in transfer fees to beef up United's flagging fortunes.
Van Gaal - whose stylish way of football and no-nonsense attitude has earned him the nickname the "Iron Tulip", quickly emerged as a front-runner to take over the hot seat at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman brings with him a long list of successes including several Dutch titles with top club Ajax and unfashionable AZ Alkmaar, a Bundesliga crown with Bayern Munich and Spanish championship with Barcelona.
Van Gaal - who has long said he wanted to move to British football after the World Cup - has in the past also been linked a possible deal with Tottenham.