Cape Town - Manchester United have reportedly been shocked by the exorbitant wage demands of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes.
Representatives of the 25-year-old were in London at the weekend to hold talks with the Red Devils over a potential £65million switch, with reports Real Madrid have also asked to be kept abreast of the developments.
Old Trafford insiders, however, were left bemused after being quoted an annual salary of £7.2million-per-year before other bonuses are factored - almost £2million more than the same player was happy to accept from the Manchester giants last summer.
They are understood to be 'sceptical' that Madrid have been asked for a similar cash amount, as the La Liga giants are already well stocked in the midfield department.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ran out of time to sign Fernandes last year and the club's paymasters are wary of being played off against another interested party.
Fernandes played on Saturday night and scored twice in Sporting's 3-1 win over Setubal, although his club are not sure the Portugal international will still be their player for Friday's derby against bitter rivals Benfica.
Sporting coach Silas said: "I can't guarantee any of these things (Fernandes staying at Sporting) because I don't know. I'm already thinking about the game with Benfica and I'm thinking about using him."
Fernandes, who earns £40,000-per-week in Lisbon, is keen to try his luck in England and knows United are desperate to recruit some midfield creativity during the transfer window this month - but the word coming out of the Theatre of Dreams is they will not be fleeced by his camp.
United need to add goals from midfield to their armoury, with striker Marcus Rashford's 14 leading the way this term ahead of Anthony Martial with eight.
Nobody else has more than three in the top flight and, with Fernandes scoring at a rate of almost one in two league games for Sporting, it is obvious why Solskjaer wants him on board.