Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has cranked up the pressure on Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger by claiming the Gunners' money-men might not be too impressed if Samir Nasri's contract is allowed to run down.
Ferguson has already had a £20million bid for the France midfielder turned down by the north London club and believes he is unlikely to end up at Old Trafford. However, Wenger has pledged to keep Nasri for the final year of his contract in an attempt to persuade him to sign a lucrative extension - despite the risk of him leaving for nothing in 12 months' time.
"He is the manager," said Ferguson of Wenger. "If he stands by that decision, it is a brave one. I don't know if the (Arsenal) directors will enjoy that one, but it is possible. Maybe he will have to stay. But I don't think he is coming to United. I think that he has agreed to go somewhere else."
Ferguson might be playing a tactical game in a rather confused transfer picture. The United boss knows he still requires a replacement for Paul Scholes, who retired at the end of last season.
However, there are serious doubts over Ferguson's ability to land any of his three main targets; Nasri, Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder, who has again expressed a desire to remain at Inter Milan.
With Sneijder's wage demands expected to be around £250,000 a week, Ferguson will want to know the 27-year-old Holland midfielder is committed to the United cause before attempting to drive the transfer through.
At least he landed in Boston for the first leg of United's five-match United States tour knowing he has secured the services of three new players even if only Ashley Young is presently in America. Phil Jones and David de Gea will join later once they have got over the exertions of their respective Under-21 campaigns with England and eventual winners Spain.
Wenger is facing up to the loss of two pivotal figures in Cesc Fabregas, who remains a firm target of Barcelona, and Nasri. Little wonder he does not want to let the latter man go.
"Will he [Nasri] be at the club next season? I say yes," said the Arsenal boss, speaking in Malaysia on Monday.
"The second part [of the question] - will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I am not the only one to decide. Samir Nasri is very happy at the club and is committed to staying at the club."