Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle has confirmed widespread reports that his star man Juan Cuadrado formally requested a transfer during showdown talks over his future on Friday, with Manchester United now increasingly confident they can beat Barcelona to a stunning €50m summer signing.
Cuadrado has become the transfer rumour mill's new favourite name over the last fortnight, with the Colombian speed demon a perfect fit for both United's new 3-5-2 system under Louis van Gaal and the attacking full-back position at Barcelona.
Both teams have been waiting patiently for Cuadrado to return from an extended break following his World Cup campaign and hold talks with La Viola over rival interest, but Della Valle has ended that impasse by conceding that the 26-year-old's head has been turned.
Time to bid is now
In a short interview with Sport Mediaset, which was recounted by AS this afternoon, Della Valle explained: "I met with Juan today and he asked if he could leave this summer.
"I said to him, stay for one more year, we have a serious project here, but I'm not optimistic."
The 26-year-old clearly feels the time is right to chase a lucrative move to either the Premier League or La Liga, but Fiorentina are likely to prove stubborn negotiators as they attempt to acquire the highest fee possible for a versatile star with electric pace and an eye for goal from wide positions.
Manchester or Barca?
With the transfer window slowly drifting towards its conclusion any team serious about signing Cuadrado now face a race against time to make the deal stick, but its definitely United who have the budget to pursue this deal most aggressively.
Barca are busy wrapping up the £15m purchase of another Man United target in Thomas Vermaelen, so the path is clear for United to complete their third major summer signing at a premium price, definitely more than their current club-record £37.1m deal for Juan Mata.