Alexis Sánchez has been identified by Louis van Gaal as a summer target for Manchester United, with the manager considering a move for the £20m-rated Barcelona forward.

Although United’s interest has yet to reach any advanced stage, the manager is a firm admirer of the Chile international, who will face Van Gaal’s Holland during the World Cup in Brazil.

United would want to sell one or two of their forward players to ensure Van Gaal’s squad remains uncluttered if Sánchez were to arrive. This would mean that Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa, plus possibly the strikers Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck, could be under threat as the manager assesses his new squad and how he wants the side to play.

Van Gaal has often utilised a 4-3-3, meaning he requires only one dedicated striker, with his team placing emphasis on pacy widemen. When in charge of Bayern Munich he operated with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the flanks in this fashion.

However, Van Gaal has also proved flexible regarding team formation, usually deciding on the best shape to fit the players at his disposal.

Sánchez, at 25 and following an uneven three years at Barcelona, fits the profile of the young and hungry footballer Van Gaal often favours. The 2014 World Cup will Sánchez’s second, plus his experience in the Champions League as well as featuring in a La Liga-winning team with players of the quality of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi at Barcelona, the hope would be that he could help make Manchester United serious title contenders next season.