Manchester United are optimistic of signing Rasmus Højlund from Atalanta before their season starts against Wolves on 14 August. The club do not wish to pay more than £60m for the 20-year-old striker but there is a firm belief he will join in the next two and a half weeks and it is understood they do not have to sell any players to raise the finance required.

After Wednesday’s 2-0 loss in a friendly to Real Madrid at Houston’s NRG Stadium, Erik ten Hag was asked about Højlund. “We never talk about players under contract with another club,” the manager said. “We have our targets, we are 24/7 busy with it, with the right player to sign a contract with us.”

Højlund is understood to have agreed personal terms and although Ten Hag also admires Eintracht Frankfurt’s France international Randal Kolo Muani, United are closing in on signing the Dane.

There is a recognition that Højlund’s youth means he is not yet the complete forward but confidence within United’s hierarchy in Ten Hag’s ability to develop the player’s full potential. The manager is impressed with Højlund’s determination to work hard to improve.

Although Højlund is regarded by United primarily as a No 9, Ten Hag would be expected to deploy him across the frontline on occasion, with Marcus Rashford able to operate at centre-forward.

Ten Hag has another No 9 in Anthony Martial but does not feel able to rely on him because the Frenchman is prone to injury. This has put Martial’s future in the balance, although Ten Hag remains impressed with what 27-year-old can offer when fit.