EXCLUSIVE | By Manchester correspondent Alex Stevens

Southampton have rejected an £18million bid from Manchester United for midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, Football Insider sources understand.

The offer was turned down as it does not match the Saints’ £25million valuation of the France international.

United are expected to return with an improved bid for Schneiderlin, who has emerged as a key summer target for the Premier League’s richest club.

Manager Louis van Gaal wants to make a major midfield signing, and is eyeing up possible long-term successors to Michael Carrick in the anchorman role.

United are firm favourites to sign Schneiderlin after, as revealed by Football InsiderArsenal pulled out of the race to land the Frenchman.

United and Southampton have held extensive discussions about the possibility of Schneiderlin moving to Old Trafford this summer.

The 25-year-old has been open about his intention to quit St Mary’s Stadium for an England-based club competing in next season’s Champions League.

Despite Schneiderlin’s desire to move, he still has two years remaining on his contract and the Saints intend to hold firm on their £25m valuation.

“I think my decision is made,’ Schneiderlin told French radio station RMC at the end of 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.”