United dealt contract blow in 'Scholes replacement' chase

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Manchester United have been dealt a potentially decisive blow in their pursuit of midfielder Marek Hamsik.

Italian speculation earlier in the week claimed the Napoli playmaker was stalling on a new deal with the club, with Sportmediaset reporting that planned negotiations had been cancelled, providing the Red Devils with hope over a possible deal.

However, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has moved to dismiss suggestions that Sir Alex Ferguson might be able to prize the player to Old Trafford, and is confident the 24-year-old will sign a new deal at the Stadio San Paolo.

"There are many teams that want Marek because he is a great player," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But he will sign a contract renewal with us, and there is no need to rush that. Everyone wants him, but he's staying here."

The news will come as a blow to Manchester United, who have been reported to view the player as a possible replacement for Paul Scholes at club following his retirement in the summer.

Hamsik, along with Mario Gotze and Wesley Sneijder, were heavily courted by Manchester United throughout the transfer window, if the press are to be believed, but Ferguson decided against making a move for any of the targets.

Whilst the emergence of Tom Cleverley has helped soften the blow of the club legend's exit from professional football, a recent slump in form has left many to predict that the Scot will venture into the transfer market in January, although Hamsik now appears an unlikely option for Manchester United.

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