Manchester United appear to have received a blow in their pursuit of Spanish midfielder Koke, with Atletico Madrid sporting director Jose Luis Caminero having claimed that the player will stay with his current employers for "many years".
21-year-old Koke, who has been with La Liga outfit Atletico for the entirety of his burgeoning career to date, has been in impressive form for Diego Simeone's side this season, having notched four goals and registered eight assists in 18 league matches.
Such excellent displays have seen him become the subject of sustained transfer speculation, with Premier League champions Manchester United - whose rapid descent under David Moyes continued with a 2-1 defeat to Swansea in the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon - having been repeatedly linked with a move for the Spain international who is reportedly rated at around £30 million.
However, despite reports last week stating that Manchester United had dispatched a delegation to Madrid with the intention of finalising a deal for Koke, Caminero clearly believes that the player will remain at the Vicente Calderon for the foreseeable future.
"He (Koke) is a player who has improved considerably. Also, he has reached the national team and that puts you in the spotlight and opens more eyes. Koke is going to stay many years, he has an Atletico heart," he told Spanish newspaper Marca in an interview that was quoted by talkSPORT.
If Manchester United are not able to complete a deal for Koke, then Moyes would surely be wise to swiftly move on to other targets.
What became even more apparent during the dismal defeat to Michael Laudrup's Swansea was just how lacking Manchester United's midfield really is in terms of star quality and that needs to be addressed very quickly if the club are to arrest their alarming slump.