Louis van Gaal is considering walking out on Manchester United this summer – a year before his contract expires.
Van Gaal will have a season left on his contract after this one ends, but it is understood the mounting pressure of the job could see him leave the post early.
Sources in Holland claim the Dutchman’s family have become increasingly concerned at the heavy toll leading the Old Trafford giants is taking on the 64-year-old.
Van Gaal himself raised the spectre of quitting – rather than being sacked – during United’s miserable eight-game winless run at the end of last year.
He complained about the effect speculation about his position was having on his relatives and friends, and it is understood those close to him fear he may have had enough by the end of this season and decide to retire 12 months sooner than he had planned.
The former Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Holland boss has walked away from several posts in the past, and United are aware he may choose to end his tenure a year early.
Van Gaal stepping down would leave the way clear for Jose Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea last month, to take over — the Special One is said to be willing to bide his time until the summer to land the Old Trafford gig.
Current No 2 Ryan Giggs is unlikely to be handed the big job.
Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has strong links with the club, and it is understood the former Chelsea boss is being kept informed of close friend Van Gaal’s ongoing situation.
Despite the 1-0 win at arch-rivals Liverpool last Sunday, which moved them within seven points of Premier League leaders Arsenal, doubts remain over the Dutchman’s suitability to take United forward.