Chelsea's hopes of signing Wayne Rooney took another blow when Manchester United manager David Moyes insisted he had no plans to sell the striker.
And he even hinted that the 28-year-old could sign a new contract to extend his stay with the current Premier League champions.
United play Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, and the injured Rooney will not return for that game as previously expected, as confirmed by BBC Sport.
He has been one of United's main players this season, scoring nine goals in 17 Premier League games and assisting a further nine, per ESPN FC.
That will have kept up the interest of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was reportedly interested in signing Rooney during the summer, per BBC Sport.
There has been speculation, per The Times (subscription only), that Rooney would consider his future at United if they failed to qualify for the Champions League next season.
And Matt Hughes of The Times tweeted that Arsenal would be among the clubs who would like to sign the player:
Mourinho's lack of interest in bolstering his striking options during the January transfer window, per BBC Sport, hints that the club may be planning a move for a bigger name during the summer.
Chelsea have so far signed midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica and been linked to Saint Etienne defender Kurt Zouma this month, as reported by Ben Burrows in the Mirror.
Moyes' insistence that United will hold on to Rooney, even if the player does decide he is unhappy, will force Mourinho to look elsewhere.
With Rooney's contract not due to expire until summer 2015, as reported by ESPN, United could hold him to his current deal, frustrating Chelsea further.
And with Moyes under pressure due to results on the pitch, he is unlikely to sanction a move allowing Rooney to sign for a rival.
Monaco's Radamel Falcao has been linked, per Alan Nixon in the Mirror, and the Colombia international may prove a suitable alternative to Rooney.
Chelsea, though, should attempt to tie up a move before the World Cup, where Falcao could put in some eye-catching performances and increase his asking price further, as it looks increasingly unlikely that they will be successful in their bid to prise Rooney from United.
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