Jose Mourinho is set to become the world's highest paid manager when he takes over from Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal in the coming months, according to reports in the English press.

The Express reports Mourinho will earn £15.5million a year with his agent currently negotiating the terms of a three-year contract worth in total £46.5m.

His potential appointment is seen as a reaction from United after Manchester City last week confirmed the signing of Mourinho's arch rival Pep Guardiola and a mark of their desperation to not be outdone by their neighbours.

"Mourinho dropped a heavy hint at the weekend he has a job lined up when he admitted he "will be back in the Premier League soon," said the Express.

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"United have spent more than £300m on new players since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013 but are ready to give Mourinho another huge transfer war chest to re-build the club into a European force again."

The former Chelsea coach would be United's third manager in three years with the club having lacked stability since former manager Sir Alex Ferguson's highly successful 26-year-reign ended in 2013.

Ferguson's successor David Moyes was shown the door 10 months into a six-year contract while Van Gaal has come under fire for United's dour style of play under his guidance.

United's interest in Mourinho is a dramatic turnaround for the club that for so long resisted the temptation to sign the controversial former Chelsea coach.

"The fact that the club appear ready to compromise those principles and sign a pact with the 53-year-old Portuguese coach is not only a sign of how desperate things have become at Old Trafford but also how much United as a club have changed in a short space of time," said the Daily Mail.

However, other reports suggest Van Gaal is still a chance of remaining at Old Trafford, with his side's Champions League qualification prospects all important to him appeasing club owners and investors.

"That means Van Gaal must either guide United to a top-four finish in the Premier League or win the Europa League, which now carries a passport into Europe's top club competition," said the Mirror.