Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan insists finance was not the problem in Adem Ljajic's proposed transfer from Partizan Belgrade.
United confirmed earlier this week they were pulling out of the £10million deal, having assessed Ljajic's performances and decided they had better midfield options already.
Although that was a plausible scenario, critics of the Glazer family ownership of the Red Devils - who are in debt to the tune of £790million - have leapt on comments from the Partizan club president Dragan Djuric that United are in the middle of a "financial crisis".
Club officials have already described such comments as nonsense. And that stance has been backed up by Phelan, who claimed the almost certain failure to get a work permit for the teenager to complete a January move was the reason for the collapse.
"We made a tentative approach to getting a work permit and the word we got back from the Home Office was we couldn't get that through in time to get Adem signed in January," said Phelan.
"I don't think money is an issue.
"The point is do you lay out money for Adem knowing there is a possibility that you might not be able to get him? As it stands Adem Ljajic won't be coming to Old Trafford in January."
As they emphasised by beating Tottenham to reach the Carling Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, United already have plenty of decent youngsters, with Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Ritchie De Laet among those to impress in a win that set up a mouth-watering semi-final with Manchester City.
"We have a platform that allows young players to develop and get into the first-team," said Phelan.
"We looked at Adem and he has the potential to do that.
"But sometimes you cannot fight these things. Sometimes you can get work permits, other times you can't. Adem fell into the latter category, which is why we made the decision."