Manchester United have discussed a deal for Christian Eriksen, but the Tottenham playmaker is understood to favour a move to Spain.
PA understands that United explored a deal for Eriksen, whose contract with the north London club only has one season to run.
The Old Trafford giants have been long-time admirers of the 27-year-old, who indicated earlier in the summer that he was ready to “try something new”, but the Denmark international is believed to have set his sights on a switch to Real Madrid.
Discussions have come to an end so it looks unlikely that Eriksen will be heading to United, and time is running out if they are to add to their squad before Thursday’s 5pm deadline.
Talk of a move for former Spurs striker Fernando Llorente is understood to have come as a surprise to those behind the scenes at Old Trafford, while it remains to be seen how the collapse of a swap deal involving Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku impacts any move for Juventus frontman Mario Mandzukic.
Wantaway striker Lukaku has dominated the agenda in recent days, just as he has for most of the summer.
Eyebrows were raised when he was pictured training with boyhood club Anderlecht at the start of the week.
United’s players had a day off on Monday, and the club declined to comment about Lukaku’s ongoing presence at the Belgian club on Tuesday amid reports they had expected him back.
Notwithstanding the Lukaku situation, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is understood to be largely happy with his squad.
Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James have all arrived over the summer, and the Norwegian has been impressed by the development of the club’s young players during pre-season.
Teenager Mason Greenwood is in line to feature against Chelsea after being omitted from the under-21s’ EFL Trophy opener at Rotherham on Tuesday – a match in which Angel Gomes, James Garner and Tahith Chong impressed.
The quartet will surely have roles to play in the first team this season, although PA understands loan moves are on the cards for some young players.
Questions remain over the future of experienced players like Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo, but ongoing transfer windows elsewhere in Europe could offer exit routes.
The 27-year-old Brazil forward has been linked with a return to the Nou Camp, possibly initially on loan, following his world-record £198million move to Paris Saint-Germain two years ago.
Pique, speaking in Miami on his club’s pre-season North American tour, did little to quell the speculation.
“I think he’s a great player, he knows the dressing room, the city and the club,” the Spain international said, quoted by sport.es.
“There are people who were dissatisfied with the way he left, but there are many people who were very satisfied with his performances.
“It is a complicated operation. He is a PSG player and the squad we have now is important enough to challenge for all titles.
“If the opportunity arises, you already know the relationship I have with him, and I would be delighted if he returns, but he is a PSG player. A personal opinion does not change anything,
“Of course we talk to him. It is also not appropriate to say what we are talking about. If he wants to express himself or give his opinion, he has to do that.
“He is a ‘crack’ on and off the pitch and we are waiting for developments. I cannot say more.”
The pair have not always been on the same page, however.
Pique posted a picture of himself with Neymar on social media in July 2017 alongside the words “Se queda” (“He stays”). Just over a week later, Neymar joined PSG.
Tottenham appear to be zeroing in on a loan move for Philippe Coutinho, but if it were up to Gerard Pique, he’d make sure his Barcelona team-mate remained at Camp Nou.
Spurs have jolted into life in the transfer market just 36 hours away from the end of the British transfer window (GST: 20:00), having had a bid accepted for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala while they remain on the tails of Sporting Lisbon playmaker Bruno Fernandes and Real Betis’ Giovani Lo Celso.
Former Liverpool man Coutinho is now seemingly another option for Mauricio Pochettino, as the club work to thrash out a loan deal with Barca before the window closes.
Barcelona are currently in Miami as part of their pre-season tour and Pique is crossing his fingers that Coutinho sticks around to compete for a spot in an attack that has seen the addition of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
“I want him (Coutinho) to stay, but at the end of the day it’s what he wants and I want him to be happy,” said Pique.
“Let’s see. Until the last day of the transfer market we will not know if he stays or not. But it’s not my decision, it’s the club’s and Philippe’s.”
Pique, 32, is bidding for his ninth La Liga title with Barcelona next year, though is wary of expecting too much from the Champions League after being the victims of heart-breaking comebacks in successive years against Roma and Liverpool.
“The arrival of players like Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann will certainly help us in all competitions,” added Pique.
“We have to see the season with perspective. We won La Liga last season which was great, but we should control expectations with the Champions League. Our main goal is La Liga, the Champions League is like Russian roulette.”