Manchester United and Chelsea's hopes of landing midfielder Xabi Alonso appear to have been cruelly ended, with reports suggesting that he has agreed a new deal to remain with current employers Real Madrid.
Alonso, who joined the La Liga giants from Premier League outfit Liverpool during the summer of 2009, looked as if he might be set to depart the Santiago Bernabeu with his current contract due to expire at the end of the 2013/14 season.
However, according to reports from Spain cited by the Daily Star, the 31-year-old has agreed a new deal - worth a reported £4m-per-season - to remain at Real Madrid until 2016.
Such news would evidently come as a huge blow to both Manchester United and Chelsea, with the Premier League title rivals having been tipped to go head-to-head for his signature in the summer.
For Manchester United, former Liverpool star Alonso would surely have gone some way to rectifying the problem of a notable lack of creativity in the heart of the midfield at Old Trafford.
While Manchester United boss David Moyes does have a number of central midfield options at his disposal, most of which have flattered to deceive so far this season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, currently possess an abundance of impressing attacking midfield talent but could have used Alonso to boost the quality of options in a slightly deeper role.
While the duo of Frank Lampard and Ramires have proved dependable starters for Jose Mourinho's side, the likes of John Obi Mikel and an ageing Michael Essien do not provide stellar back up options.