Cesc Fabregas was the perfect target for new Manchester United manager David Moyes. The talented midfielder would have been a terrific addition and sent a message that the club wasn't going to miss a beat without Sir Alex Ferguson leading the way.
Instead, the Spanish international committed his future to Barcelona, and United are left without the midfield upgrade they have been seeking. It's a setback for the Red Devils boss, who's still searching for his first marquee signing.
Sky Sports passed along the comments from Fabregas, in which he talked about being very happy with the dominant La Liga side despite the transfer talk:
It has always been my dream to play for Barcelona and that has not changed. I am very happy with life at the club.
I am always relaxed and I have never thought about leaving Barca. I never had any doubts about my future here. It cost me a lot to return to Barca and all I want now is to be successful here.
It's a disappointing outcome for United. They are now running out of time to make a deal before the new Premier League campaign gets underway and are putting themselves at risk of not making any major signings in Moyes' first summer at Old Trafford.
A transition period was expected. Moyes arrived to the defending Premier League champions from Everton, a club that didn't have the same type of transfer power. As time goes on, however, the viability of that excuse will quickly fade away.
Luke Edwards and Steve Brenner of The Telegraph report Moyes admitted the switch has been a serious challenge with no shortage of tough decisions:
The transition from Everton to United has been difficult at times as I have hard decisions to make.
Everton are a great club and I was proud to manage them. I can’t deny Manchester United is on another level. Let’s be honest, it would be a step up from just about any club in the world. The level of interest from the fans and the press is phenomenal.
Chasing Fabregas was one of those decisions. While it was ultimately a choice that didn't pay off, it was worth taking a chance considering the type of impact he would have had for the club.
The key now is bouncing right back to target other players who could help the squad. There are always going to be times when a club can't reach an agreement for a preferred player, but making sure not to compound the disappointment by not making any upgrades is crucial.
One player linked to the Red Devils is Marouane Fellaini, Moyes' former player at Everton. Richard Jolly of ESPN reports no official approach has been made, but that's probably going to change after Fabregas made his comments.
Moyes is considering bringing Fellaini, who would probably cost around £24 million, to Old Trafford and United’s failure to land other targets means attention has switched to the 25-year-old. United saw Thiago Alcantara, who they had tried to sign, opt to join Bayern Munich instead while Barcelona have rejected two bids for Cesc Fabregas and insisted they do not want to sell the former Arsenal captain.
Is Fellaini on the same level as Fabregas? No, but he's a hard-working player who has experience under Moyes and would bring some versatility to the United midfield. And signing him would certainly be better than making no improvements at all.
Again, that must be the focus moving forward for United. The Fabregas situation didn't play out like the club hoped, but there's still time to salvage the transfer window with a couple other deals, whether it starts with Fellaini or another high-profile player.
The pressure is on Moyes to get things sorted out before the transfer window closes.