Manchester United outcast edges closer to January exit as Premier League rivals open transfer negotiations

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Everton have opened talks with Manchester United as they aim to seal a January deal for Morgan Schneiderlin.

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The Frenchman has been told he can leave Old Trafford in January having failed to make an impression since his £24 million move from Southampton in the summer of 2015, with Ronald Koeman’s Toffees believed to be leading West Brom in the race to secure the defensive midfielder.

And with the transfer window barely days old, Sky Sports claim that negotiations between the two north-west rivals are already underway with a view to taking Schneiderlin to Goodison Park.

Reports on Monday night suggested that Everton’s opening bid of £19 million was swiftly rejected by Old Trafford officials, with United understood to be holding out for the full £24m they paid Saints before the start of last season.

But this has not deterred Dutchman Koeman, who worked with the 27-year-old during his spell at Southampton, from insisting that his negotiating team- headed by club chairman Bill Kenwright- return to the table in the hope of reaching an agreement.

Everton’s urgency derives from their palpable need to find cover for outgoing midfield lynchpin Idrissa Gueye, who has been called up by Senegal for the African Cup of Nations. As such, a destructive player in a similar mould is considered a priority as they seek to add a minimum of four players to their ageing, imbalanced squad during January.

While the influence of Koeman puts the Merseysiders at the front of the queue to sign Schneiderlin, though, West Brom are one of a number of teams thought to be monitoring the situation with interest.

The Baggies have also seen a lower bid of £13 million rejected for the Les Bleus international and may well return with an improved bid themselves as they look to strengthen the spine of their team ahead of a potential tilt at European qualification.

Schneiderlin is yet to make a Premier League start this campaign and has featured just three times off the bench in a disappointing end to 2016.

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