Last season’s Premier League runners-up have stuttered in the market this summer, having so far only signed Brazil midfielder Fred, promising full-back Diogo Dalot and third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant.
Mourinho would ideally like two more signings before Thursday’s deadline and spoke of his confidence that he would get at least one through the door, warning that failure to improve the squad would make this a “difficult season”.
United are keen to buy a centre-back and it isunderstood they are interested in Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng.
Links to World Cup star Harry Maguire persist but Leicester’s reluctance to sell is clear with the deadline looming large.
The Foxes are unwilling to let their reigning player of the year depart and will stand firm in the face of any late United bid.
Toby Alderweireld is another defender United are interested in, but it is understood that Tottenham have yet to receive a bid as a deal remains a way off.
Mourinho’s side have tracked, among others, the likes of Jose Gimenez, Milan Skriniar and Kalidou Koulibaly in a summer that has seen regular links to Yerry Mina.
The latter, so impressive for Colombia in Russia, is also reported to have been part of a deal offered by Barcelona for World Cup winner Paul Pogba.
Barca are said to have seen a bid involving towering defender Mina, midfielder Andre Gomes and around £45million rejected for a player that has had his ups and downs with manager Mourinho.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is naturally understood to be unwilling to sell club-record signing Pogba – a stance backed by former defender Rio Ferdinand, just as a move for Alderweireld would be.
Referencing reports that Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola is looking at Barcelona as a possible new home for his player, Ferdinand said: “Don’t you dare allow this ED… #MUFC is Pogba’s home!! Silence these rumours ASAP & get @AlderweireldTob through the door.”
As well as Pogba, the United hierarchy are also understood to be keen to keep unsettled forward Anthony Martial despite well-documented tension between him and Mourinho.
The Portuguese is open to selling a player that he criticised for not returning to United’s pre-season tour of the United States after the birth of his second child. Martial was omitted from the squad for Sunday’s friendly loss at Bayern Munich.
Daley Blind and Sam Johnstone, to Ajax and West Brom respectively, are so far United’s only summer sales, but talk is rife about a defensive departure given their attempts to sign a centre-back.
Marcos Rojo has been widely linked with a move away from Old Trafford, despite signing a new and improved deal until at least 2021 just a matter of months ago.
The Argentina international is reluctant to leave as he continues to work on his fitness, with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly the other centre-back options at United.
Injuries to summer signing Dalot and fellow right-back option Antonio Valencia could delay Matteo Darmian’s return to Italy, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been strongly linked with a season-long move to Hertha Berlin.
A number of United’s under-23 squad could make temporary exits, with European leagues remaining open for business and English football League clubs allowed to make loan signings until the end of the month.
Axel Tuanzebe has rejoined Aston Villa on a season-long loan, following Joel Pereira, Matty Willock, Dean Henderson and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson in making temporary exits from United.
It’s approaching crunch time for a number of Premier League clubs looking to scramble together squads for an assault on Manchester City’s title – with Manchester United and Chelsea in particular still keen to do business ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Elsewhere, others are looking to bolster their ranks as they bid to survive a torturous campaign, including newly-promoted Cardiff and Europa League-chasing Burnley.
Below are a list of the most in-demand players for Premier League clubs and the likelihood of deals being completed before Thursday’s deadline.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC – BORUSSIA DORTMUND TO CHELSEA
Chelsea again here. To be fair, did you see the gulf in class between them and City at Wembley? The 19-year-old has been linked with a move to a myriad of clubs this summer, although this seems another one that is likely to happen in the future rather than be rushed through in a few days.
Undoubtedly talented, it would perhaps be more beneficial for the American teenager to hone his craft for another season at Dortmund where manager Lucien Favre has a young side to mould for the future.
However, with Chelsea possibly losing the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian, they may be pushed into a move for Pulisic.
Chances of it happening – 3/10
AARON RAMSEY – ARSENAL TO CHELSEA OR LIVERPOOL
This is a deal that has come to light very recently and for that reason, seems unlikely to come to fruition.
The Welshman would be a quality addition to either side’s midfield but Unai Emery would be foolish to want to let the 27-year-old leave for a Premier League rival. Having lost the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Robin van Persie in similar circumstances in recent seasons, that would see the amount of rants on Arsenal Fan TV skyrocket at a time when they’re happy to have just got rid of Arsene Wenger.
Ramsey himself is surely keen to see what unfolds in the Spaniard’s debut season at the Emirates. He is though entering his prime as well as the last year of his contract, so if the Gunners fail to fire this season, this could be a move we’ll see next summer.
Chances of it happening – 2/10
THEO HERNANDEZ – REAL MADRID TO FULHAM
From the Santiago Bernabeu to Craven Cottage. Not a move that’s been completed too often in football history, but it could just happen before Thursday’s deadline.
Fulham have already had a sensational summer window – signing Jean Michael Seri, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Alfie Mawson and Andre Schurrle – and it could get even better if they pull this loan move off.
The 20-year-old left-back has not pulled up any trees in Madrid and is in need of a move to rejuvenate his career.
Chances of it happening – 7/10
MARCOS ROJO – MANCHESTER UNITED TO WOLVES OR EVERTON
Whether it’s Alderweireld, Maguire or Jerome Boateng, one of them looks likely to be a United player by the end of the week.
And if they are, the current Old Trafford defender most likely to be shifted on is the Argentine. Erratic, unreliable and injury-prone, his initial signing after the 2014 World Cup was a head-scratcher.
He has failed to convince since but the good thing is that Mourinho isn’t short of suitors for the 28-year-old, with Everton and promoted Wolves after reinforcements.
Chances of it happening 7/10
DANNY INGS – LIVERPOOL TO CRYSTAL PALACE, NEWCASTLE, SOUTHAMPTON OR BOURNEMOUTH
The former Burnley striker has endured a nightmare few years at Anfield with injury and his Reds future was underlined when he was left at home while they went to the US on their pre-season tour.
Although he’s going to be taking a step down, the good news for the 26-year-old is he won’t be short of options, with a string of lower tier Premier League clubs looking to snap him up.
Ings is in need of a fresh start and a £20 million fee feels like a great deal for someone.
Chances of it happening 9/10
JAY RODRIGUEZ – WEST BROM TO BURNLEY
Rodriguez is one of those perennial players that seem to make a career out of being a nomadic Premier League player. Nowhere near good, or consistent, enough to be an elite operator – to be fair horrendous injuries have curtailed his career – yet he appears in demand after relegation with West Brom last term.
The Clarets will have to stump up £20m if they want to bring Rodriguez back to Turf Moor – the 29-year-old scored 41 goals in 128 games from 2007-12 before moving on to Southampton.
Burnley’s striking corps is stacked with middling forwards – Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Jonathan Walters – so what’s one more to add to the mix.
Sean Dyche’s side are looking to improve on a superb seventh-place finish last term and need more goals – they were the fourth-lowest scorers (36) in the Premier League last term.
Chances of it happening – 8/10
ALVARO NEGREDO – BESIKTAS TO CARDIFF
A Premier League winner with Manchester City in 2013/14, Alvaro Negredo certainly has Premier League pedigree, something Cardiff will desperately need as they look to try and survive their second attempt in the top-flight.
In 2013/14 they finished rock bottom and will be favourites for 20th place again. Last season’s promotion was built on solidity and they have wily Neil Warnock in charge so they will be tough to crack – even more so if they land the burly Spaniard.
Their other summer acquisitions hardly strike fear into the rest of the league – Josh Murphy, Bobby Reid, Greg Cunningham and Alex Smithies coming aboard a ship most are already saying will struggle to stay afloat.
The 32-year-old would add some quality to a Bluebirds striking department that currently includes Kenneth Zohore, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Gary Medine.
Chances of it happening – 8/10
Hart, who has agreed a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee thought to be no more than £4million, has been looking for a permanent club after season-long loans at Torino and West Ham. The Clarets emerged as an unexpected destination after injuries to Nick Pope and Tom Heaton.
Manager Sean Dyche decided to enter the market with Pope facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder in the Europa League qualifier at Aberdeen and Heaton returning to fitness after a calf strain.
Hart has known he had no future at the Etihad Stadium, where he played a key role in two Premier League title wins and three cup successes over the course of 348 appearances, ever since Pep Guardiola’s arrival as manager.
The 31-year-old’s situation became even more stark when he was axed by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate on the eve of this summer’s World Cup, with Pope beating him to a place in the final 23 and Heaton named on standby.
Hart has not given up hope of adding to his 75 England caps, and starting the season in the starting XI of a side who finished seventh in the league last season and have a chance of reaching the Europa League group stages is a good place to start.
He will wear number 20 at Turf Moor, where his drastically reduced wage has reportedly been topped up by a pay-off from City.
His departure was marked with warm words from his former employers, who have promised supporters the chance to show their appreciation at a “formal tribute” in the autumn.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak led the praise in a statement which read: “Joe Hart’s contribution to Manchester City cannot be overstated.
“His 12 years at the club have seen him produce some remarkable performances and heart-stopping saves that will live in the memory for a long time to come. His passion for and commitment to this club, evidenced by a remarkable tally of 348 appearances, means he will rightly be regarded as a City legend in perpetuity.
“I want to personally thank him for everything he has given to us over very many years and he leaves with Sheikh Mansour’s and my heartfelt best wishes for the next step in his career. He will always be welcome at the club.”
BREAKING: Burnley Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of England international Joe Hart on an initial two-year deal. More to follow. pic.twitter.com/bkyAuXKlMS— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) 7 August 2018
City captain Vincent Kompany also offered a glowing reference.
“Joe joined as a young lad from Shrewsbury and leaves a City legend,” said the Belgian.
“When you look at the club he joined and the club as it is now, we have come so far during his time in Manchester and Joe has been a huge part of that.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to play alongside him for so many years and I know I speak on behalf of every City fan when I say I hope he means as much to his next club as he has meant to us.”