Colombian sensation Juan Cuadrado is reportedly ready to snub Manchester United in favour of a move to Barcelona, but the Red Devils shouldn't give up on their attempts to sign the winger just yet.
Catalan-based newspaper Sport (h/t Metro's Vaishali Bhardwaj) claims the World Cup hero will go as far as forcing a move to the Blaugrana, nullifying a reported £31 million offer United have already made current club Fiorentina.
The Mancunians can also offer the winger a much higher salary, per Bhardwaj, but even the prospect of cashing in with the Red Devils seemingly can't deter Cuadrado—he wants to play for Barcelona.
It won't be easy for Barcelona to sign Juan Guillermo Cuadrado despite him being on Luis Enrique's most wanted list. Fiorentina aren't giving an inch and are asking for 50 million euros for the Colombian, an exorbitant figure that Barça won't be in a hurry to pay.
Nevertheless, the international isn't being ruled out and the club will keep trying till the very last. It mustn't be forgotten that Barça have the distinct advantage of having reached an agreement with the player.
In many ways, the fact Cuadrado is willing to choose an adventure with Barcelona over a move to United is indicative of the state the latter club is in right now. The Red Devils can offer more money, don't have Barcelona's wealth of players out wide and will be coached by a much more experienced manager.
Those are the repercussions of missing out on Champions League football. Manchester United have lost a ton of leverage in the transfer market following their disastrous 2013-14 season, but they have one powerful tool left: money.
Per Marca's report, Fiorentina want €50 million, and Barcelona aren't willing to offer that kind of money for a player they—realistically speaking—don't need. As long as the Red Devils don't pull out of a potential transfer, that fee won't drop.
Cuadrado has his reasons for holding out for a Champions League team—his entire European career has played out in Italy so far, and the likes of Lecce, Udinese and Fiorentina simply can't offer consistent entries in Europe's premier club tournament.
The winger isn't some youngster trying to secure his first big paycheck; he's a 26-year-old who knows this transfer is likely going to define his career. He's also really, really good at his job, as Alessio Tacchinardi told Goal's Romeo Agresti:
At this moment I really think he is the top player in his role. He plays with brilliance, speed and intelligence.
He is an old-fashioned winger, always unpredictable with the beating of his man. He reminds me a bit of Roberto Donadoni during his time at AC Milan: a winger who always knew how to help his team by switching on the turbo on the flank.
He is electric but has so much strength in his muscles. The Colombian really is unique. We have to hope that Serie A is not deprived of his class, the league would lose so much.
Fiorentina's insistence on a huge transfer fee is borne out of two things: the player's raw ability and the vast amount of big-money transfers 2014 has already seen. Clubs have thrown money at the likes of James Rodriguez, David Luiz and Luis Suarez, and La Viola want in on the action.
They'd much rather part ways with their star player on good terms and send him to his preferred destination, but the longer this transfer saga drags on, the better United's chances get.
As shared by Barcastuff, Sport claims Cuadrado has already given a first indication United's offer is starting to impact the way he's looking at this transfer:
Although he prefers to join Barcelona, Cuadrado wants them to raise their offer and equal that of Man United, who offer him more. [sport]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) August 4, 2014
No one is claiming the Red Devils have to go all-in for Cuadrado. But they've reportedly tabled their offer, and now they should ride this one out. Their willingness to meet Fiorentina's asking price looms over the negotiations between the Italians and Barcelona like a vast shadow, and it'll only grow darker.
The Red Devils can continue their activity in the transfer market and even look at alternatives for the Colombian, but it doesn't hurt to keep the option open.
Countless players have flipped on their commitments before, and United's offer will only grow in its appeal as we draw closer to the end of the transfer window.