By Paul Clennam
Manchester United have pulled out of the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Mario Gotze, Goal.com understands.
The Germany international went on record professing his admiration for the Premier League leaders on Thursday, but United officials have been forced to admit defeat in the race to sign the £40 million-rated wonderkid.
Sir Alex Ferguson remains an admirer of Gotze, having monitored his progress at Westfalenstadion since last summer's successful pursuit of Shinji Kagawa.
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"However, Sir Alex is wary of blowing his budget on a marquee signing like Gotze and is looking at a number of other options to strengthen the side."
The Red Devils have already secured the signature of Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha, who will move to the club in the summer having agreed a £17m switch.
Gotze has scored 14 goals in 36 appearances for Dortmund so far this term, helping them into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The attacker also caught the eye of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini after starring in his side's 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season.
The Italian is believed to be open to using the German club's desire to land Edin Dzeko as a potential makeweight in any swoop for the youngster.