Goal has learned that Udinese are holding firm on their €40 million (£35m/$50m) valuation of Leeds-linked midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, with Atletico Madrid currently toiling to arrange a cut-price deal.
De Paul's future is the subject of much debate heading towards the summer transfer window, with the 27-year-old's stock higher than ever after another stellar campaign at Udinese.
Although Leeds have reportedly been monitoring the 27-year-old for some time, La Liga champions Atletico are in pole position to land his signature at the moment, but a final deal remains in the balance due to the fact his current club are refusing to compromise on price.
Atletico's negotiations with Udinese
Goal can confirm that Atletico have already seen an offer of €20m (£17m/$24m), plus Argentine defender Nehuen Perez, for De Paul turned down by Udinese.
The Rojiblancos are not giving up on their pursuit of the Argentine, but cannot afford to stump up €40m up front in the current financial climate and will only be able to invest funds in new signings that they make through player sales.
Atletico are still in talks with Udinese and are open to including a number of other different first-team players in the deal, with the possibility of an instalment-based payment plan also being mooted.
What has De Paul said about his future?
De Paul, whose current contract at Stadio Friuli is not due to expire until 2024, pledged his loyalty to Udinese during an interview with the club's official website earlier this year.
“I don’t know when my last day here will be,” he said. "I will give everything for Udinese until that moment. There were many rumours about my future in January, but I immediately met the director to tell him I wanted to go nowhere.
“I closed doors for everyone, my daughter was born here, and my son is going to be born here, he will be Friulano.”
The bigger picture
Atletico's current financial plight means the door remains open for other potential suitors to swoop in with their own bids for De Paul, and Leeds will likely have a sizeable transfer pot to work with after an impressive first season back in the Premier League.
The Whites flexed their muscles in last summer's transfer market by spending a combined total of £90m ($128m) on Rodrigo, Raphinha, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Helder Costa, with Marcelo Bielsa now being tipped to strengthen his squad once again.
However, Italian giants Milan have also been linked with De Paul and Atletico will continue to chase a man who contributed nine goals and nine assists to Udinese's cause in 36 Serie A games in 2020-21.