Manchester United officials are ready to admit defeat in their attempts to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund after they failed to make significant progress, reports The Times.
Jose Mourinho had been hoping to make the Armenian playmaker his second signing as United manager having already signed Eric Bailly from Villarreal in a £30m deal.
The fact that the player's agent, Mino Raiola, has openly talked about Mkhitaryan's desire to move to Old Trafford seemed to suggest a deal was imminent. To add to that, the 27-year-old confirmed he would not be extending his contract with the Bundesliga club, which expires next summer.
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However, Borussia Dortmund are determined to keep him at the club even if that means losing him for nothing in 12 months time.
Dortmund’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said recently: “We have intensely discussed the question of an early transfer and came to the conclusion that Mkhitaryan will stay in Dortmund next season.”
They have already seen Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan leave in the current transfer window so that stance is understandable.
Top news for Juan Mata
As a right-sided attacker, Mkhitaryan's arrival would have spelt disaster for Juan Mata, who has frequently taken up that position since moving to Manchester United in 2014. The Spaniard is already fighting for his United career as his relationship with Mourinho is less than good.
Mourinho froze Mata out of the Chelsea squad before allowing him to join their Premier League rivals. Now the Special One has followed him up north, it has been theorised that the same will happen again.
But with his plans to sign Mkhitaryan in ruins, Mourinho may have no choice but to keep Mata handy, at least for now. Indeed, there may be nothing to stop the Portuguese from signing him on a free transfer next summer.
Raiola working hard
It appears as though Raiola will be working to the death before he gives up on the deal, especially if his latest quotes are anything to go by.
Raiola told Bild: "We have both taken very different views and fight for them like lions. [Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim] Watzke walks 180 degrees into one direction and I walk 180 degrees into the other. But even though it does not look like it right now, I still hope for a sensible solution.
"Such an offer to join Manchester United might only come once in a lifetime for a player and nobody can guarantee us that the door will still be open for Micki next season. Manchester are Micki's dream club, he wants to join them by any means."
Manchester United may have to focus their efforts on their other targets with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba both on Mourinho's wish list.
While Ibrahimovic will come on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, it is likely that Pogba will cost something like a world-record transfer fee.