United Ljajic rejected over work permit

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Manchester United opted out of signing Serbian Adem Ljajic because of work permit issues, not because of financial problems, assistant manager Mike Phelan said on Friday.

United said on Thursday they were no longer planning a bid for the 18-year-old Partizan Belgrade midfielder, which had been estimated by local media as worth some 10 million pounds, sparking suggestions from Partizan that they were struggling for finance.

"I don't think money is an issue. The point is do you lay out money for Adem knowing there is a possibility that you might not be able to get him?" Phelan told a news conference on Friday.

"We made a tentative approach to getting a work permit and the word we got back from the Home Office was we couldn't get that through in time to get Adem signed in January. Sometimes you can get work permits, other times you can't."

In January, United signed Zoran Tosic from Partizan and agreed in principle to sign Ljajic after he spent the rest of the year with the Belgrade club.