Real Madrid's prospective capture of Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has stalled after United boss Alex Ferguson rejected their offer,
reported on Wednesday.
It seems only a matter of time before a deal goes through, although Real will clearly have to get much nearer United's 15 million-pound (21.9 million-euro) valuation for the player than the 10 million pounds it is believed they have bid.
Intense rumours out of Spain on Tuesday night suggested van Nistelrooy was due in the capital for a medical on Wednesday before completing a big-money move to the Bernabeu.
It appears the Real website even published a profile of the 30-year-old earlier in the day, only to swiftly take it off, claiming it was a technical problem.
However Ferguson said: "There is no agreement with Real Madrid and Manchester United over Ruud. We have refused their offer. He remains a Manchester United player."
Ferguson added, while in South Africa for a friendly against Kaizer Chiefs on Tuesday night: "The situation is this: the player has said he wants to leave. The chief executive of the club, David Gill, is looking into the matter.
"Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have both shown interest in him."
The 30-year-old van Nistelrooy lost his place in the first team at the end of last season and did not appear for Holland in their World Cup second round loss to Portugal.
However he has scored 95 goals in 150 Premiership matches for Manchester United, whom he joined in 2001 from PSV Eindhoven.
With van Nistelrooy's short-term future still undecided and interest in Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres stalling, Ferguson may yet stick with his current strikeforce.
His midfield is another matter though, as public confirmation of his interest in Michael Carrick emphasises.
"We are trying to sign another central midfielder," said Ferguson. "We have made a bid for Michael Carrick but they (Tottenham) turned it down."
Ferguson did not elaborate on the Carrick issue but he did hint at a possible bid for Patrick Vieira should he receive confirmation the former Arsenal man wishes to leave scandal-hit Juventus, who are now bound for the depths of Serie B.
"We have to see what Juventus are planning for their players," said Ferguson. "Vieira, (Fabio) Cannavaro and (Gianluca) Buffon are all top players and there are question marks about where they are going next season."