The future of Wayne Rooney looks set to remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, with Paris Saint-Germain unlikely to decide whether to make a move for him until closer to the end of the season.
Manchester United are said to be ready to consider offers for their once talismanic striker, who was left out of the starting XI for Tuesday's Champions League defeat by Real Madrid, but there will be a keen desire in the club's hierarchy to avoid talking down the player's value.
When Rooney performed a dramatic volte-face in October 2010 and signed a new five-year contract on £250,000 a week days after threatening to leave amid keen interest from Manchester City it is understood that the move was personally sanctioned by the Glazers following a conference call with Sir Alex Ferguson and the chief executive, David Gill.
It was a key moment in the owners' tenure – pushed by Ferguson, they agreed to break the club's wage structure as a demonstration that the onerous financial obligations placed on Manchester United by their debt-funded takeover would not prevent them from matching the wages on offer from their well-funded local rivals.
They would have thought then that they were not only securing a vital player, after reassuring him with promises about their ambitions, and getting one over on their "noisy neighbours" but also maintaining his future value.
It is one of several ironies of the situation that in delivering on their promise to Rooney to sign better players, the issue the player claimed was at the heart of his dissatisfaction, it is the 27-year-old who has ended up being sidelined. But if Rooney is seen as damaged goods, then it will affect the fee that he can command, particularly in the absence of much competition for his services.
The club would look to recoup at least the £25.6m they spent on signing him from Everton, but the number of clubs willing to buy him has contracted with the introduction of Uefa's financial fair play rules and the emergence of other targets.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea, who were keen on Rooney in 2010, have less interest now and it is understood the former have ruled out a bid. An approach from PSG has been mooted but their list of transfer targets for next season remains in a state of flux.
Leonardo, the club's general manager, could leave at the end of the season and the future of the coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who masterminded their passage to the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, also remains unclear. Therefore it is unlikely that any decision will be taken on whether to attempt to sign Rooney until closer to the end of the season.
Neither Real Madrid, Barcelona nor Bayern Munich are expected to take an interest – leaving the list of potential buyers a short one. The introduction of Uefa's FFP rules are also a factor for any club hoping to lure Rooney, especially if he hopes to maintain his salary. Whereas transfer fees can be amortised over the length of a player's contract, their wages go straight on to the bottom line.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who preferred Danny Welbeck and Nani to Rooney on Tuesday, has repeatedly questioned Rooney's fitness over the past year. He has often been forced to play out of position following the arrival of Robin van Persie and in the first leg in Madrid he was asked to occupy an unfamiliar defensive role.
The Manchester United manager will face the media on Friday for the first time since he failed to carry out his post-match media duties in the wake of Real's 2-1 victory at Old Trafford, a match that turned on Nani's controversial sending-off.
The United vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, who has masterminded the club's commercial growth, will take over Gill's responsibilities as chief executive in the summer. He told the Guardian last year that United's average net transfer outlay would be £25m, plus any additional money brought in from player sales.
Whether Rooney stays or goes will be Ferguson's decision but financial considerations will surely play a part. If the forward is deemed to be on the fringe of the manager's plans, there would be a reticence to pay £250,000 a week to a squad player. Although Manchester United are in little danger of failing to comply with Uefa's FFP rules, the club's board will be aware that paying Rooney over the final two years of his contract would cost the club more than £13m a year.
As they ponder Rooney's future, as well as that of Ferguson, United's board were also warned on Thursday that Jim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs banker who unsuccessfully sought to put together a Red Knights consortium to lead a supporter-backed takeover in 2010, still harboured ambitions of owning the club.
"I haven't lost my desire to get involved in executing a philanthropic-based ownership of Manchester United," he told the Manchester Evening News, adding that his imminent retirement from the investment bank would give him the opportunity to revive the plans should the opportunity arise.
"With what I am doing, should the opportunity come along, I would certainly have the time to look at it and I wouldn't have the restrictions I had previously."
The mooted takeover was faced down by the Glazers, despite loud opposition from the majority of the club's fans to their debt-funded ownership model, calculated to have cost £1bn in fees and interest by 2016.
However, the club's value has since soared to around £2bn in the wake of its partial flotation on the New York Stock Exchange, as its aggressive commercial strategy, continued success on the field and the introduction of FFP have worked in its favour.