LONDON • Manchester United, it appeared, had written off Angel di Maria as an expensive mistake on Friday - by agreeing to sell the Argentina winger to Paris Saint-Germain for £44.1 million (S$94.5 million).
But within a few hours, matters took on a different hue with the English Premier League football club's manager Louis van Gaal putting his foot down on the transfer.
According to the Daily Mirror, the Dutchman is furious that the 27-year-old did not join the club's pre-season tour of the United States and has asked United to demand upwards of £45 million if the move is to go through.
The Old Trafford outfit also, reportedly, want more of the fee paid up front, which means negotiations could well stretch into this week.
PSG's plan was for di Maria to undergo a medical in Paris tomorrow. That is now unlikely to happen. Besides, the Argentinian will have to face stiffer penalties.
He has already been fined £360,000 for "disappearing", and now, according to the Mirror, United will ask the Professional Footballers' Association to extend that punishment.
Van Gaal is displeased at the lack of respect the player has shown in his refusal to honour his contract.
Di Maria failed to join United's summer tour of the US last Saturday, with van Gaal saying after Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by PSG that he did not know where the player was. "I don't want to answer that but you can keep asking," said the Dutchman. "Maybe you know where he is. I don't know."
Di Maria will eventually be sold to PSG, 12 months after the player's British-record £59.7 million move from Real Madrid, but only after United makes him sweat for a while.
Laurent Blanc, the PSG coach, said: "You know negotiations are in tandem (ongoing) and as Paris Saint-Germain (and United) are both big clubs, that can be difficult. But we feel we are close to the end."
And PSG's Argentina international Javier Pastore said: "(Di Maria) wants to come (to PSG). He is a very great player. Plus, he alone can win important matches."
United have lined up a £22.8 million deal for Pedro, the Barcelona and Spain winger, on a four-year contract as a replacement.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN