Sergio Ramos' interest in Manchester United is real but patience is starting to wane
Manchester United have been encouraged by Sergio Ramos agreeing to their request to make his desire to leave Real Madrid public, despite an opening £32m bid for the defender being rejected out of hand.
It is thought that United wanted Ramos to go public on his request for rival clubs' bids for him, in order to protect the Manchester club against accusations that they have been used by the 29-year-old as a device to get a new contract at Real.
The defender has not gone public himself - despite suggestions he might issue a statement - but his interest in United has been made known, at his own request.
Privately, United will know that such developments offer no guarantees.
The boot was on the other foot when Wayne Rooney issued a statement saying he would not sign a new United contract in 2010 - and let it be known that he was unhappy in 2013. But he signed new contracts on both occasions and stayed.
The Old Trafford club would probably feel greater security if Ramos were to go public himself.
There is a genuine feeling at United that the club are not being played by the Madrid defender, though, and a sense of enthusiasm among supporters that the club are opening the bidding for a Real player this time - rather than waiting for the Spaniards to arrive and hand-pick their prize assets, as they did Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham.
As of last night, no bid had been received from Madrid for goalkeeper David De Gea.
Ramos is thought to be anxious for progress in the next two weeks, to prevent him being dragged into the Spanish club's long-haul pre-season tour with his future still unclear.
If the situation remains unresolved, Ramos could find himself flying to Australia on July 11 - facing Roma and Manchester City in mid-July - then heading on to China where Madrid play a further two games, against Internazionale in Guangzhou and Milan in Shanghai.
Reports in the AS newspaper, which is close to the Ramos camp, said United had offered the defender a salary of €55m net (£39m) over five years, which could see the Spanish centre-half finish his career playing at Old Trafford.
The nature of the offer would see Ramos earn £8.5m in his first season in England.
A sliding scale would lead his annual wage to decrease by £356,000 to leave the Spanish defender earning £7.1m a season.
Ray Wilkins is to join the coaching staff at Aston Villa after holding talks with manager Tim Sherwood.
The 58-year-old has revealed he is to link up with Sherwood at Villa Park as the club attempts to move on from last season's fight for Barclays Premier League survival.
"There's only one place to be - the Premier League is the place to go in, and I will be assisting Kevin McDonald, Tim and the whole shooting match.
"Over my coaching career, I've been involved with a lot of managers of an extremely high level, and I've learnt off each and every one of them. Hopefully I can give the lads at Villa that type of experience."
Wilkins added: "They should be a top-10 team in the Premier League, simple as that. They showed at the end of last season what they can achieve, and we'll work hard to do that.
"They've got a good squad, but it can work a lot better and a lot harder."