Lyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas claims Manchester United will have to pay more than £24.5m if they want to sign Mahamadou Diarra this summer.
Sir Alex Ferguson initially enquired about the 24-year-old last year, and has been tipped in the Sun to make a move again.
But chairman Aulas says the midfielder will cost more than Michael Essien, who joined Chelsea for £24.5m last summer.
“Diarra will be here next season,” he said to the BBC. “Even if a good deal is possible, he’ll be more expensive than Essien.”
Ferguson is expected to strengthen his team over the summer ahead of a Premiership and European challenge next season.
United have just signed a £56m four-year shirt sponsorship deal with AIG, while the Glazer family have pledged to support Ferguson in the transfer market.
Ferguson spent £12.5m in the January transfer on defensive duo Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic – and chief executive David Gill recently said:
“There are funds there if you are investing in the product. I spoke to Joel (Glazer) and said, ‘these are the players the manager is interested in’ and he just said ‘go do it’.”
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