Barcelona director Andoni Zubizarreta claims Manchester United have given up on attempts to sign Cesc Fabregas this summer. The Premier League champions have been heavily linked to the Spain international in this transfer window, as new United manager David Moyes looks to strengthen his central midfield options.
According to the BBC, United have had two bids rejected and were reportedly considering a third - one in excess of the club record £30.75m for Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov. And talk of an agreement finally being reached was spurred by Gerardo Martino, the Barcelona boss, admitting the decision may be left to the player himself.
However, it now appears the Catalans have issued a final statement - Fabregas will remain at the Nou Camp for this season at least.
"We count on Cesc [Fabregas], we're delighted to have him. [Manchester] United said they understand our position and won't try any longer," Zubizarreta told Mundo Deportivo.
The Spanish champions' decision echoes statements made by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who played a key role in shaping Fabregas into the world-class midfielder of today. The Frenchman, who has also admitted he may move to re-sign his former captain, if afforded the opportunity, believes the Spaniard will remain in Spain, for now.
"Fabregas has decided to stay one more year at Barcelona. We have the clause in the contract [a release/first option clause] so we would be on alert," he explained in mid-July.
Meanwhile, Moyes is believed to be tracking a number of other targets as alternatives, with German international Bastian Schweinsteiger the newest name to be linked with Old Trafford. Other names include Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Newcastle United's Frenchman Yohan Cabaye.
Peter Schmeichel on AIK Friendly
Former United No 1 Peter Schmeichel believes the forthcoming pre-season friendly against AIK Fotball could be a defining moment in Moyes' preparations. The former Danish international and one of United's most iconic players thinks the Scandinavian team could provide a stern test of the English champions' title credentials.
"AIK will be very fit, the Scandinavian season is ongoing at the moment and any team you play from this region will be match-fit," Schmeichel told ManUtd.com, adding, "It's one of the most important games David Moyes has had. These are the games where you have to start winning."
"We need to win this game and try and keep the pressure down and keep the media, more or less, quiet. AIK is a nice game to have and also the last one probably for the players to stake that claim for a place in the XI," he concluded.
United visit the Friends Arena on Tuesday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 6.30pm BST.