Manchester United are prepared to release up to £40million to make Mauricio Pochettino as their next boss.

The Old Trafford hierarchy have decided the Tottenham boss is the only contender to replace Jose Mourinho next summer.

And a clause in Mourinho’s contract means it will cost United less to sack the Portuguese if they are not in the Champions League.

United face a battle with Real Madrid over Pochettino, 46. But, despite the current turmoil, they believe they can sell the Red  Devils as the more attractive proposition.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who sold Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov to United on his watch, faces a huge battle to keep his manager.

Pochettino is determined to lead Spurs into their new stadium in the new year and signed a five-year, £8m-a-season deal only last summer.

Plus, he turned down United in 2016 when they fired Louis van Gaal. But that has not put off Woodward.

United are a staggering 18 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and knows he is on borrowed time at Old Trafford.

Spurs have finished in the top four in three successive seasons under Pochettino, who joined them from Southampton in 2014.

 

But the Argentine is also frustrated with lack of investment at Tottenham — who were the only Premier league club NOT to sign a player in the summer — and he has spoken many times about the need for fresh blood.

 United would be willing to spend up to £40million in compensation to Spurs. The north London side have run well over budget on their stadium rebuild and Daniel Levy is likely to dig in his heels. Tottenham have finished in the top four on the three successive occasions under Pochettino who moved from Southampton in 2014.