Bayern Munich have emerged as the frontrunners to sign unsettled Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Dutchman, 30, has been repeatedly linked with Real Madrid, who have had a bid of about £12m turned down, but Bayern believed they are now in the driving seat.

Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer is confident a deal will be struck for Van Nistelrooy, adding that the club will offload Roy Makaay or Claudio Pizarro to make way for the Dutch striker.

“We’re still Euros 5m (£3.4m) away from Manchester United’s valuation, but the chances are still high,” he said.

“But if it does work out, I could imagine us giving away Roy Makaay or Claudio Pizarro.”

Bayern have already spent £7.15m on Germany international Lukas Podolski from Cologne and, with Makaay, Pizarro and also Paraguay’s Roque Santa Cruz already at the club, Van Nistelrooy’s arrival “would leave us with too many strikers”, according to Beckenbauer.

Paolo Guerrero was sold to Hamburg and Beckenbauer claims further departures to club could be in the pipeline.

“We could reach another deal with Hamburg,” he added.

Van Nistelrooy has reported back to Manchester United for his first day of pre-season training despite speculation he would stay away with his future still uncertain.

Ferguson had earlier revealed that Van Nistelrooy has asked for a transfer three times since May 2005.

“Ruud asked away before the Arsenal FA Cup final last year, then asked away through his representative, and has now asked away himself in writing,” he told the News of the World.

“Quite frankly, if he wants to leave, there really is no point trying to persuade him to stay.

“I couldn’t tell you why he wants to leave or why his heart isn’t in it – all I can tell you is that he has asked away and we have accepted that.”

It is thought Van Nistelrooy would prefer Real Madrid but Ferguson said: “They have made an offer, we have rejected it.

“If they don’t come back in and increase their offer, he won’t be going and I would be content with that. It would not bother me one bit.”