Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has rubbished the “invention” of rumours linking Porto midfielder Hector Herrera with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
With those terms expiring, the 28-year-old will be free to speak and reach a pre-contract agreement with any interest parties from January.
Lopetegui was considered to be among those keen to bring an experienced performer on board, with the opportunity to snap up a proven free agent too good to pass up.
The Blancos coach has, however, sought to distance himself from such speculation, telling reporters: “The Hector Herrera rumours are just an invention.
“I wasn't in Porto, I did go with my family on holidays, but I didn't meet Hector.”
Lopetegui claims to be happy with a star-studded squad already at his disposal, with his focus very much locked on the present.
He already faces plenty of tough selection calls without bringing further fresh faces into his ranks, with all of those he can call upon ready for starting duties if required.
“Of course there are 24 indisputable starters,” he said.
“We will always try to find the best solutions, but it is clear that some will play more and others less. But in my head this is a long season and everyone should be prepared for when the alarm clocks sound.”
Among those to have been offered more regular game time this season is Gareth Bale.
The Wales international has struggled for consistency and fitness during his time in the Spanish capital, but is now thriving without Cristiano Ronaldo to cast a shadow over his efforts.
He was back among the goals for Wales during the recent international break and is being backed to slip seamlessly back into the club fold when Madrid travel to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Lopetegui said: “He has returned in phenomenal condition. He has played with Wales for 180 minutes but has had time to recover.”