EXCLUSIVE | By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens

Manchester United have opened talks with Southampton about signing Morgan Schneiderlin, Football Insider sources understand.

United have made a move for the France international as they step up plans to overhaul their midfield this summer.

Louis van Gaal wants to make a major midfield signing who can be the long-term successor to Michael Carrick in the anchorman role.

United are prepared to pay around £18million to sign Schneiderlin, who has been open about his intention to quit St Mary’s Stadium.

United face competition from Chelsea and Arsenal to land the Frenchman, who has been a key figure for Southampton since they returned to the Premier League three years ago.

Arsenal have been on the trail of Schneiderlin for two years and are keen to land a significant midfield signing this summer but have not yet made a move for the Frenchman. Chelsea and Spurs, who made a bid for Schneiderlin last summer, are also monitoring his situation.

The 25-year-old has made it clear in the aftermath of the recently completed Premier League campaign that he wants to leave Southampton for an England-based Champions League club this summer.

“I think my decision is made,’ he told French radio station RMC. ’I learned a lot last season. The goal is to stay in England. It is a championship that I like and where I have a lot of fun. If I leave Southampton, it is for a club that plays better than the Europa League.

“There are ongoing discussions but nothing is done. But of course the Champions League is my goal. If I leave Southampton it will be for a club in the Champions League. If a club pays the right amount for me, it will be time to leave. The amount? I have no idea but I will not leave for a small price. Southampton is known to be a good seller club, the price should be high enough.’

Given that he still has two years remaining on his current deal, Southampton are prepared to hold firm again and are not willing to let him leave for less than £20m.