Manchester United have launched a bid for Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, according to the Mirror. The report claims the Premier League champions are willing to trigger the Belgian's £23.5m release clause and speculation suggests this signals the end of David Moyes' pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
However, it is also understood that Old Trafford chiefs are negotiating with Everton to reduce Fellaini's fee and hope the lure of Champions League football will play its part in bringing the 25-year-old to Manchester.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta earlier said the Spanish champions had convinced United they were not interested in releasing the former Arsenal captain and that United chiefs accepted the situation.
Moyes' pursuit of central midfield options has dragged on for a while now, with a number of other players also linked to the club. Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye count among these names. However, it was clearly Fabregas who United wanted.
Unfortunately, after seeing two bids rejected, it appears unlikely the Spain international will return to England this summer. And if that is the case, it will be the second unsuccessful chase for the new manager - he previously lost Fabregas' Nou Camp team mate, Thiago Alcantara, to German and European champions Bayern Munich.
He may run into further opposition in a bid for Fellaini. Arsenal were strongly linked to the Belgian earlier this summer, particularly after news that Arsene Wenger had a £70m summer transfer budget and was finally ready to make a genuine big-name and big-money signing.
The Gunners have moved on to other targets since then, with Borussia Dortmund midfielders Luis Gustavo and Ilkay Gundogan linked to north London. However, if Wenger is unable to make those signings, he may return for Fellaini.
Meanwhile, United striker Wayne Rooney missed the pre-season friendly against AIK with a shoulder injury. According to Moyes, the former Everton man is unlikely to be fit to face Wigan Athletic, in the Community Shield, on 11 August.
"I don't think he [Rooney] will be fit for Friday [Rio Ferdinand's testimonial against La Liga side Sevilla FC]. There is still a chance, but I don't think he will be. It is not a serious injury, but the problem we've got with the Wembley game on Sunday is that he has not played so we need to take that into consideration," he explained.