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Manchester United’s spending frenzy is set to ­accelerate with a final tilt for £35million Wesley Sneijder – amid growing speculation that they are on the brink of a fresh take­over attempt from Qatar.

Football’s grapevine is buzzing with rumours that Qatar Holdings, the business arm of the country’s ruling royal family, are the real force behind a United cash spree that is set to top £125m.

That kind of transfer market spending is reckoned to be way beyond the Glazer family who bought the club for nearly £800m in 2005.

Qatar Holdings, a division of the Qatar Investment Authority, which identifies ways to maximise the Arab state’s oil fortune, are ­believed to have had a £1.5billion offer turned down last year.

But it has been suggested in ­business circles that a third party – thought to be the Qataris – may have funded a £250m loan ­repayment by the American-based Glazers late last year.

That arrangement, if accurate, is thought to be a forerunner to a full takeover bid, with sources close to the Glazers saying they now value the 12-time Premier League champions closer to a staggering two billion pounds.

And Sir Alex Ferguson’s eye-watering transfer splash has done nothing to dampen speculation that Qatar Holdings – backed by the emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani – are back on the scene again.

Although on holiday in the south of France, the United boss is close to ­sealing deals for £21.3m Ashley Young from Aston Villa, teenage Blackburn defender Phil Jones for up to £20m and Atletico Madrid keeper David de Gea for £25m.

Ferguson also has £25m Alexis Sanchez of Udinese in his sights and is determined to land a top midfielder to replace Paul Scholes – with Sneijder his No.1 choice.

Despite claims on Inter Milan’s website last week that he is happy in Italy and sees no reason to move, United believe 27-year-old Sneijder does fancy a fresh challenge at Old Trafford.

They should ­discover this week if a deal is possible. If not, Arsenal star Sami Nasri – with a year left on his ­contract – and Tottenham’s Croatia playmaker Luka Modric will ­become active targets.

But it is the sudden release of a huge transfer war chest which has sparked rumours of a bigger picture developing at Old Trafford.

The Glazer family continue to insist United are not for sale – and that being unpopular with the fans doesn’t bother them.

But they cannot compete with the spending power of Abu-Dhabi owned Manchester City or Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, who forked out £75m in January on Fernando Torres and David Luiz. Officials from Qatar Holdings were at Wembley a ­fortnight ago, sitting close to the Glazer family and ­senior United figures during the Champions League final against Barcelona.

The Qatar royal family – under the guise of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community – are Barcelona’s shirt sponsors after penning a massive £135m deal to become the Catalan club’s first paid shirt advertisers in the club’s 111-year history.

It is unclear whether any talks took place while the two parties were in London, but Qatar have made no secret of their interest in United as they look to bolster their sporting armoury ahead of the controversial 2022 World Cup.

Ferguson took United to Qatar in January last year and returned on his own in November to endorse the Aspire4Sport exhibition and ­conference in Doha to help ­promote Qatar as a sporting ­destination.

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was also a paid ­ambassador for Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid, while Nou Camp president Sandro Rosell has been a vocal ­supporter of the Qatari football academy, styled on Barcelona’s.

But while they are happy to have links with Barca, Qatar Holdings know they could never buy the Catalan club, which is owned by 150,000 fanatical fans.

Qatar Holdings has a massive portfolio of worldwide property investments, including Harrods and London’s One Hyde Park – an apartment block where luxury flats go for around £30m each.

Buying United, though, is still thought to be their main sporting strategy.

And the anti-Glazer Green and Gold supporters were last night clinging to the hope Ferguson’s spending splurge is the signal that the unpopular ­Americans’ grip on United may be coming to an end.

Source: People

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