Manchester United may have to concede defeat in their battle to prise Lucas Moura away from Sao Paulo, amid reports in Brazil that they have failed with a £30million bid for the 19-year old attacking midfielder.
With Lucas entitled to 20 per cent of any fee, under the terms of his contract, and Sao Paulo indicating they wanted to clear at least £23.5m in any deal for their prize asset, United were convinced their latest offer would be enough to break the deadlock.
Sir Alex Ferguson sees the addition of one of Brazil’s outstanding prospects as essential for wresting the Barclays Premier League title back from neighbours Manchester City, and he dispatched chief scout Jim Lawlor to Sao Paulo with instructions to make sure a deal was concluded.
But the mission may not be accomplished, after Brazilian media outlet Globo esporte reported that an improved bid of 38million euros (around £30million) had been rejected by Sao Paulo president Juvenal Juvencio.
With Sao Paulo clearly demanding in excess of £25million for themselves, the overall asking price is about to start soaring towards a prohibitive £40million.
It is common practice in Brazil for clubs to award top players a percentage of any future transfer fee, instead of a signing-on payment, and the imminent increase in Lucas' entitlement has piled the pressure on United to try and find the necessary funds before the month is out.