Manchester United and Liverpool appear to have been dealt a blow in the race to sign Villarreal defender Mateo Musacchio.
According to talkSPORT, previous reports that he would be available for a free transfer this summer are wide of the mark and rather than him having just four months remaining on his current deal at El Madrigal, he is actually tied to the La Liga outfit for another four years.
23-year-old Mushacchio certainly does not boast quite as much experience as many of Spanish football's top defenders, but he has become very highly-regarded nevertheless after establishing himself in La Liga following Villarreal's promotion back to the top-flight last season.
A number of consistently solid and all-action displays in Marcelino García Toral's defence has seen transfer speculation involving Musacchio intensify, with Manchester United and Liverpool both reportedly targeting the €50 million-rated centre-back.
While both clubs would surely have been keen on a potential free deal for a player of Musacchio's caliber, it remains to be seen if either Manchester United or Liverpool would be willing to splash such an exorbitant amount on a player who has yet to play a great deal of games at the top level.
David Moyes' need for a new centre-back is certainly not in question. With Manchester United having appeared desperately poor in a defensive capacity for much of the current season, the departure of captain Nemanja Vidic to Serie A giants Inter Milan this summer will only serve to worsen the problem.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have had an excellent second-season under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers and currently occupy second in the Premier League table.
But while the goals have been going in thick and fast at Anfield during 2013/14 thanks to the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, they have been notably weak defensively and will surely be looking to bolster their backline sufficiently during the next transfer window in preparation for their long-awaited return to the very pinnacle of European club football - the Champions League.