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No longer top dogs in English football, the same can also be said of Manchester United in the transfer market after they were beaten to the signing of yet another top transfer target this summer.

And United's disappointment at missing out on Lucas Moura has only been made worse by claims from the Brazilian's agent that a deal was all but done before Paris Saint-Germain swooped at the 11th hour.

Lucas, 19, had looked set to become United's big-money signing of the summer after being identified by Sir Alex Ferguson as the man to help bring back the Premier League title next season.

But despite agreeing a reported £30million deal with Sao Paulo for the much-sought after teen their hopes of luring him to Old Trafford were scuppered when PSG launched their own charm offensive.

The Parisians, bankrolled by the petro-millions of Qatar, wasted no time in wrapping up a deal, signing Lucas in a £35m deal that will see the player stay with Sao Paulo for the time being before linking-up with his new team-mates in January.

Ferguson could not hide his disappointment at missing out on another top target having already seen Eden Hazard join Chelsea earlier this summer, and believes the game has "gone mad" given the huge sums involved.

"I find it quite amazing that a club can pay 45million euros for a 19-year-old boy," said the Scot. "You have to say the game's gone mad."

His frustration no doubt stems from the fact United were just a signature away from sealing the signing of a player who has been compared to Brazilian legend Jairzinho.

"Everything was agreed between Sao Paulo and Manchester United," Lucas' representative Wagner Ribeiro told UOL. "The contract had been written and just needed to be signed.

"But then Leonardo called me and asked to talk to Lucas. They talked. Leonardo was helped by the fact he is Brazilian. He was very gentle with Lucas."

And for the second time this summer, it appears a "project" elsewhere was more appealing than Ferguson's attempts to readdress the balance of power in Manchester let alone the Premier League with Lucas, much like Hazard had been at Chelsea, won over by PSG's future ambitions.

"The possibility of living in Paris - a much more pleasant city than Manchester - also influenced his decision," said Ribeiro. "But it was PSG's project that impressed Lucas."


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