Manchester United chief executive David Gill has admitted the Premiership leaders have virtually no chance of signing Owen Hargreaves before the transfer window shuts on Wednesday.
Sir Alex Ferguson made the England midfielder his number one January target but despite raising his bid to a reported £20million, it has still not been enough to persuade Bayern Munich to sell.
Following a board meeting on Thursday, Bayern officials have suggested that while there will be no deal this month, the transfer could be concluded next summer.
And, although on Friday Ferguson claimed he had not entirely given up hope of landing Hargreaves this month, Gill is adopting a more pessimistic stance.
'I can confirm we are interested in the player and we have been since last summer but at the moment Bayern Munich aren't willing to sell him and we will have to leave it at that,' Gill told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.
With United also falling behind Tottenham in the race to sign Southampton's £10million-rated full-back Gareth Bale, it appears increasingly likely that Henrik Larsson will be the only new face to arrive at Old Trafford this month.
The veteran Swede has made an instant impact with the Red Devils and saw a perfectly legitimate volley incorrectly ruled out for offside against Portsmouth last night.
As it presently stands, Larsson is due to return to Helsingborgs in the middle of March, with Gill insisting there had been no discussion with Ferguson over whether to extend the forward's stay.
'I know for a fact Alex, Carlos (Queiroz) and all the players are very impressed with Henrik in terms of what he can do, his attitude and how he has fitted in,' said Gill.
'We want great players at the club but we have not really discussed that we are focusing on the next few weeks and we will see what happens.
'I think it is a bit early, you never say never, but we will go through that nearer the time with Henrik and the club.'
However, Gill was more definite in confirming Cristiano Ronaldo's long-term future remains at Old Trafford.
Three days after Sir Alex Ferguson slapped a 'hands-off' warning on the Portugal winger amid rumoured interest from Real Madrid, Gill made it clear no amount of money could prise Ronaldo away from Old Trafford, with owner Malcolm Glazer apparently in full agreement.
'As Arsene Wenger has said on many occasions, clubs aren't banks,' said Gill. 'We are there to put on entertainment and play a top-class team.
'There is no point having £35million or £45million if you can't replace that talent. At 21, Ronaldo has had a great season and the best is yet to come.
'If we did get a bid, I would tell the Glazer family. But I know the conversation would be very brief because it would be turned down immediately.'