Real Madrid and Manchester United are refusing to comment on growing speculation linking Ruud van Nistelrooy with a move to the Bernabeu.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf said: “Ruud van Nistelrooy, 30, has come to a verbal agreement with Real Madrid.

“The Netherlands international could sign a three-year contract in the Spanish captial.

“Van Nistelrooy is depending on negotiations between Real and his current club Manchester United.”

Van Nistelrooy’s agent Rodger Linse said: “Ruud hopes to state his new club before returning to training with Manchester United on 24 July.”

Van Nistelrooy spent much of the latter part of last season on the bench, and rumours of a rift with Ferguson grew when the Dutch striker left the ground before United’s last game.

Van Nistelrooy was a £19m signing from PSV Eindhoven in 2001 and has been a prolific socrer at Old Trafford, scoring 149 goals in 218 appearances.