Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney is thought to be weighing up his options, after Real Madrid pulled out of the running for his signature.
Widespread reports on Monday suggested that Rooney could be sold by the Red Devils as early as January, following a huge breakdown in communications with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The 24-year-old was left on the bench for United's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, presumably as punishment for contradicting Ferguson's comments that Rooney was nursing an ankle injury while on England duty last week.
With speculation mounting that Rooney has stalled on contract negotiations with the Red Devils and is seeking a way out of Old Trafford, a host of top European clubs are thought to be on red alert.
But Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid are not one of them.
"Madrid have two great strikers in Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo, who showed last season that they are capable of scoring 60 goals between them," Real's Sporting Director Jorge Valdano told telemadrid.
"As well as that there are Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil, who are going to help these two goalscorers. The question is, who would we move aside if we signed another striker?"
Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to secure a focal point for his attack and is believed to be scouring the market for a physical striker in the mould of Chelsea's Didier Drogba, but has also stated he will not be doing any business in the winter window.
"It's not a debate in Madrid," added Valdano. "Our manager, Jose Mourinho, had to come out and stop these types of rumours. There will be neither ins nor outs [in January]. June is a long way away."
While United officials have dismissed claims that Rooney could be on his way out of Old Trafford in January as "nonsense", they do accept that only Real and neighbours Manchester City would be in a position to match the reported £60-million asking price.
Rooney is also thought to be keen on remaining in the North-West, where he and his wife Coleen both have family in the local area, but has also entertained the idea of playing on the continent at some stage in his career.
With owners the Glazers announcing an £83-million loss last week, United could be tempted to cash in on their prized asset in January rather than risk losing Rooney for nothing when his contract expires.
By James Martinicomments