The South African, who has been twice rejected with previous attempts to join Tottenham and Chelsea, is training at Old Trafford after a pounds 2m deal was struck with his Spanish club, Atletico Madrid.
Fortune was yesterday granted a permit by the Department for Employment and Education within a week of United applying, despite having an international record that does not measure up to their criterion. Fortune has played in only half of his country's matches in the last two years. Government work permit regulations state he must have appeared in 75 per cent or the application will be rejected.
South Africa have played 33 "A" internationals since August 1997 and Fortune has only appeared in 17 of those games, including three appearances as a substitute. The midfielder was out of favour for the first 10 of those matches, mainly picked by the former coach, Clive Barker. He came back against Namibia in February 1998.
That was the beginning of a successful run for Fortune, who appeared in 15 of the next 17 games including a 100 percent record in the World Cup finals in France. Fortune was then overlooked again from May of this year, playing just one of six internationals to lower his average.
A spokeswoman for the DfEE said last night: "Apparently Fortune has played in 14 out of 15 international matches in the last two years. The evidence we have got is from the South African FA." She added that the decision was swift because the "process is much quicker now that we have new regulations".
Fortune's former club, Atletico Madrid, have now promised to pay Leeds the full pounds 12m transfer fee for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink up front.
Originally the deal was that Leeds would receive pounds 6m as a down payment and the remainder in 12 months' time. But Leeds' chairman, Peter Ridsdale, said yesterday: "Atletico have told me we will be getting the entire pounds 12m in one go through a swift bank transfer."
The Spanish transfer window closes today and Leeds must receive the cash by then or they will retain Hasselbaink's registration.
Danny Hay, a New Zealand international central defender, is on his way to Elland Road from Perth Glory, in Australia. The pounds 200,000 fee for the 24 year-old, 6ft 4in Hay, who impressed the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, during a two-week trial, could rise to pounds 300,000 depending on appearances.
Derby hope to complete the protracted signing of Esteban Fuertes today. The Rams are planning to unveil the 26-year-old Argentinian striker at a news conference at lunchtime.
It has taken over a month to arrange the signing of the pounds 2.3m Fuertes, who was the second-highest scorer in the Argentinian League last season. The player is owned by three parties and the move collapsed a week ago when one of them failed to authorise his release. Now, though, Derby believe he may be available for Saturday's game at Coventry.