Manchester United have been forced to accept that Kevin Strootman will not leave Roma this season, but ESPN sources believe the Red Devils are still desperate to sign the Dutch international and will table a £40 million offer to finally get their man this summer.
Strootman was United manager Louis van Gaal's top January transfer target, with the boss privately adamant that Red Devils transfer chiefs should bring him to Old Trafford even if that means paying a mid-season premium.
Roma refused to talk terms though and see Strootman as vital to their hopes of winning a first Scudetto since 2001, which has forced a reluctant rethink in the corridors of power at the Theatre of Dream.
January deals look unlikely
Van Gaal knows that in the long-term United need a new dominant, commanding box-to-box midfielder and central defender to make his side genuine title contenders once again, but doesn't believe that calibre of player is available until later in 2015.
That means United are highly unlikely to do business in January, unless a target on their long list of potential signings becomes available and is willing to forsake Champions League football for six months in favour of joining Van Gaal's project.
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Strootman fits the bill
United are ready to use Van Gaal's fantastic relationship with Strootman to make a serious statement of intent ahead of next season, but must of course persuade pesky Roma to do business before their marquee summer signing can become a reality.
The 24-year-old won't come cheap either, under contact until 2018 and finally free from the cruciate ligament injury which ended his World Cup dream last year. After extensive rehabilitation the Giallorossi linchpin is back in Rudi Garcia's starting XI and approaching something like his best form, all of which makes negotiations look tricky for United in June.
United have proven since Van Gaal took charge though that they'll pay whatever it takes to sign the players their experienced tactician identifies, expect Strootman to be no different and belatedly become a United player later this year.