Manchester United have failed in their attempt to sign Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera amid suggestions imposters posed as United officials.
David Moyes saw a £25million bid for the player turned down and United were understood to have been prepared to meet his 36million euros release clause. A group purporting to represent United spent around an hour in La Liga headquarters in order to complete the paperwork that would have allowed the player to leave Bilbao.
But Sky Sports' La Liga expert Guillem Balague has revealed they had nothing to do with United and that the proposed move is dead in the water.
Herrera had started both of Athletic's league games this season - against Real Valladolid and Osasuna - but played no part in the early Primera Division kick-off at the Bernabeu, with Mikel Rico starting instead. Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde was adamant the bid from Moyes' side was not related to his decision to leave Herrera out of his team.
"It had nothing to do with the bid from Manchester United, I left him out because I chose the players I thought were best suited to the game," Valverde told a press conference. I'm not thinking about speaking to him to convince him about anything and I'm not worried about anything else.
"I haven't spoken with the player but what I'm going to repeat is that I don't expect the club to make any moves in the transfer market tomorrow (Monday). I do not know what will happen. I want Ander to stay with us, and that is what I expect will happen."
Asked why he thought Herrera would stay, he responded: "It would be harder to explain why I thought he was going to leave." Before the match, Valverde declared during a pre-match press conference that Herrera was fit to play against Madrid.
The 24-year-old progressed through Real Zaragoza's youth ranks before joining Bilbao in 2011 for 8million euros, and was part of the side that defeated Manchester United 5-3 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Europa League in 2011-12.