Manchester United's relationship with Everton has soured to such an extent that their hopes of beating Chelsea and Manchester City to sign Ross Barkley are effectively dead in the water.
That's according to The Mirror, who believe that the Toffees have so dismayed by the contempt United showed with their approaches for David Moyes, Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines over the last 18 months that they would be even more reluctant to led the Red Devils complete a stunning £60 million transfer than before.
Barkley carries that quite astonishing price tag after finally showing signs of realising his immense potential over the last 18 months, but even if United's interest in genuine the England international is extremely unlikely to end up at Old Trafford next season.
Red Devils see actions come back to haunt them
If United are forced to watch Barkley join Chelsea or City for a British transfer record fee then they'll effectively only have themselves to blame. Everton had no problem with the amicable way in which Moyes was approached to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at the Theatre of Dreams, but it's different story on the transfer front.
The Toffees were furious with the way Moyes tried to sign Fellaini and Baines in a double deal last summer, then even more dismayed with the way their Belgian international was unsettled and then taken with just hours remaining before the transfer window slammed shut.
City looking for Toure's replacement
Frankly regrettable conduct during negotiations with Everton essentially means that City are favourites to land a playmaker who they believe could eventually replace Yaya Toure.
City have the financial muscle to make the move happen and are actively pursuing the possibility of bringing Barkley in over the next 12 months, primarily because Toure's form has dipped alarming in the first three months of the season.
Jack Rodwell would surely warn Barkley against a move to the Etihad given his frustrating experience with the Premier League champions, although ultimately an offer exceeding £50m from any club would surely be too tempting for Everton to turn down, fractured relationship or otherwise.
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