Manchester United could yet see the arrival of Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder after the Dutchman admitted that there remains a possibility of a move.
Sneijder is the man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has earmarked as the replacement for Paul Scholes, but such is the financial situation of the player, that it is impossible for almost every club in the world to afford his services. His weekly wages alone amount to £250, 000 and he would have to take a massive cut if he is to move to Old Trafford.
On Sunday, Ferguson was quoted as saying that Sneijder had been sounded out on personal terms and that he would look elsewhere if the Dutchman wasn't willing to take a pay-cut. "If he (Sneijder) wants to come, he must accept our contract offer. If not, we have other options in mind. We're done talking."
However, he denied making any such comment later on, saying "Absolute nonsense. I have never discussed him. There is nothing new."
Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini later admitted that United had made an offer to Sneijder, but stated that any attempts to lure the player must go through Inter.
"I appreciate that there has been an offer but it's with Inter that the negotiations should take place," Gasperini said. "I'm not necessarily worried because it's normal in this period of time to live these type of situations. The market is open until 31 August, so we expect this to be happening until then.
"It's not just Inter Milan, it's the same for other big clubs where big, important players are the object of desire for a lot of clubs. When big clubs have this type of player, they tend to keep them or, if they do sell them, they sell them at their own conditions."
Sneijder himself admitted that he could yet move. Speaking after playing in a 3-0 friendly defeat to Manchester City, the 27-year-old said, "I have been at the highest level for 10 years and there are always speculations but look, I am still here. I am always happy. I am a happy guy. I am happy to train every day with my colleagues and play my games for the fans and everyone at the club. And whatever happens after that, we will see. There is always a chance something will happen but we will see."
After United secured a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the pre-season friendly at Washington, Sir Alex was impressed with the performance of youngster Tom Cleverley who he said could be the long-term successor to Scholes, though he admitted it wasn't possible immediately.
"It is an area we have to find a solution for," said Sir Alex. "That is why we played Tom Cleverley today. Physically he is not the strongest but he is wiry and has a great idea of the game.
"He is a good footballer and was our best player today. His discipline was terrific. He is a quick passer of the ball. He has good eyes. It was a big night for him. He is a big, strong possibility for us to start the season."
The 69-year-old also revealed his satisfaction with new goalkeeper David De Gea.
"Replacing Edwin van der Sar is very difficult," said the Scot. "He was a great goalkeeper. But the benefit we have with De Gea is that he is only 20.
"The qualities that stood out for us are his great composure and use of the ball. He is quick and agile, which is something we banked on. When we assessed him I thought he was the right goalkeeper to take."