Athletic Bilbao have rejected Manchester United's £28.85million bid for midfielder Ander Herrera.
An Athletic statement read: "Athletic want to announce that they have this week rejected an offer from Manchester United, of around 36million euros (£28.85million), for the transfer of the economic and federative rights of the player Ander Herrera."
The Basque club are believed to want £29m for the 24-year-old and it is still expected the deal will go through, with United having to add just £150,000 to their opening offer.
United are eager to sign Herrera this month because his buy-out clause, currently €36m, will rise to €42m in July.
Athletic proved to be tough negotiators when Bayern Munich wanted to sign midfielder Javier Martínez two years ago. Martínez eventually cost €40 million (£31.6m) and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described the signing as "without question a complicated transfer", following complications over huge tax liabilities.
Herrera is already in the north-west ahead of completing his move to United and yesterday was given a tour of the club's Carrington training ground.
United attempted to buy Herrera during a chaotic summer transfer deadline day last year, which involved three "impostors" acting on behalf of a Spanish law firm. Reports emerged of three people, said to be representing United, managing to get into Spanish league headquarters for discussions about the proposed switch and then leaving an hour later, apparently unable to complete the paperwork required to finalise the deal. Ultimately, United were unwilling to meet Herrera's €36m buy-out clause.
Then-United boss David Moyes also had bids rejected for Sami Khedira and Daniele de Rossi on the same day, while a loan move for Fabio Coentrão fell through, as he eventually had to make do with the £27.5m arrival of Marouane Fellaini.
Fellaini was United's first central midfield signing in six years yet following a dismal debut campaign, as well as doubts about his future under new coach Louis van Gaal, United's midfield is arguably in a worse state than it was a year ago.
Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick are all out of contract in 2015 and it would represent a surprise if any of them were rewarded an extension. Misfit Anderson, whose contract also expires next year, is unlikely to play for United again.