Sir Alex Ferguson's hopes of attracting Lyon's £24million-rated midfielder Mahamadou Diarra to Manchester United this summer appear doomed to failure.
Ferguson has been keeping tabs on the Mali international all season and recently watched the 24-year-old in Champions League action against AC Milan.
After failing to mount a sustained challenge to back-to-back champions Chelsea this term, United boss Ferguson has made strengthening his midfield a major priority during the close season.
Diarra is rumoured to be at the top of Ferguson's hit-list and there was even some weekend speculation the African had been on a tour of Old Trafford and the club's Carrington training ground in a bid to seal a deal.
However, those claims have been flatly denied by Diarra's agent Frederic Guerra, who insists the player has expressed his determination to stay at Lyon for at least another year.
'The information about Mahamadou going on a trip to Manchester is not good,' said Guerra.
'I have not had any contact with Manchester United about him and, in any case, he wants to stay in France with Lyon.
'He only signed a new four-year contract with the club last year and he wants to stay for another season at least.'
If the avenue to Diarra is closed off, Ferguson still has plenty of other options, with Villarreal playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and Valencia's Aldo Duscher, as well as domestic duo Nigel Reo-Coker and Kevin Nolan all linked with a move to Old Trafford.
After failing to win the Premiership for a third successive year, Ferguson badly needs to find cover in an area which has been hit by injuries and a succession of departures over the past 12 months.