Manchester United have identified Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as the leading contender to fill Michael Carrick's midfield role. United are eyeing a £20.5million deal for the central midfielder, and reports emanating from Germany on Friday indicated a deal is now close - though those claims were later denied. United will seek to sign Carrick's successor this summer as part of another huge spending frenzy. Dortmund's ball-playing midfielder Gundogan has been watched extensively by United and has emerged as their primary target. Van Gaal has an intrinsic knowledge of the Bundesliga and believes the 24-year-old has the ability to take over from Carrick on a long-term basis.