Manchester United's pursuit of Colombian wing wizard Juan Cuadrado has been handed a major boost in the last 24 hours, with Fiorentina choosing to leave him out of a prestigious friendly against Real Madrid.
Cuadrado has been the subject of persistent interest from both Barca, United and Chelsea who were widely reported to have agreed personal terms with one of the World Cup's stand-out stars earlier this week.
Fiorentina are yet to call upon Cuadrado in pre-season and are still waiting for one of Europe's richest clubs to meet their lofty £36m asking price for one of Serie A's most dynamic players, a stance which La Viola have decided to stand by despite going up against Madrid in Warsaw tomorrow night.
La Viola playing hardball
United may have positive talks over terms with Cuadrado's representatives, but try telling that to Fiorentina owner Andrea dalla Valle, who remains determined to at minimum secure the highest possible transfer fee if his best asset does force through a summer switch before the transfer window slams shut.
In reality Cuadrado's market value will probably never be higher, thanks to a fine season for Fiorentina backed up by vibrant displays at the World Cup in a Colombia side which captured the imagination at the South American showpiece.
Della Valle made the astute move to secure Cuadrado's full registration rights once the tournament had concluded, which now means he can drive a hard bargain as both Barca and United eye a crucial new wide option with electric pace.
Where will he end up?
With Cuadrado now under contract in Tuscany until 2017 both United and Barca have to acknowledge that their top transfer target is only available at a premium price.
Barca are prepared to stick with Dani Alves for another season if they can't thrash out a complicated deal for Cuadrado, which provides United with a slight upper hand in this particular transfer tussle.
Much may depend on how Louis van Gaal's current options in the important right wing-back position fare in the early weeks of the Premier League season, which for United begins against Swansea City tomorrow afternoon.
Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have both shown promise in that role and left Rafael looking potentially short of first-team opportunities at United this season, but surely Van Gaal can't justify having all three plus Cuadrado.
Expect United to sanction exits before any important late additions arrive at the Theatre of Dreams, which for now leaves Cuadrado and Fiorentina in limbo ahead of their final major friendly before kicking off Serie A against Roma at the end of the month.
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