We revealed in October that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is ready to reappoint Mourinho, despite his acrimonious exit from the Bernabeu in 2013 after three years in charge.
Rafa Benitez has himself been under-fire at Real and although Mourinho is favourite to replace him, the ex-Chelsea boss is in no rush to go back there.
Mourinho’s first priority is to stay in England, as he is determined to prove a point to the Blues, and owner Roman Abramovich, that they made a mistake by firing him for the second time in eight years.
The 52-year-old Portuguese has always secretly dreamed of one day taking over at Old Trafford and harboured the ambition of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired in 2013 and was replaced by Van Gaal's predecessor David Moyes.
Now, the door could be open again.
United looks to be the only option for him among the big sides in England — Manchester City’s sights are on Pep Guardiola, Mourinho’s fall-outs with Arsenal makes that move impossible when Arsene Wenger eventually goes and Liverpool have only recently appointed Jurgen Klopp.
Paris Saint-Germain has also been touted as a potential destination, but Mirror Sport understands both sides have major reservations.
It all leaves Mourinho - who issued a statement this weekend saying he will stay in London and wants to get straight back into work - with one obvious destination.
United may also decide they should act now and grab Mourinho to replace Van Gaal rather than risk allowing the Special One to land elsewhere.
Chelsea - now under interim boss Guus Hiddink - visit Old Trafford for a Premier League game next Monday night.