Manchester United have been told that it will cost £15m to sign the French striker Louis Saha from Fulham – more than twice what they are prepared to pay.

United are understood to be ready to pay £7m but are unwilling to go any higher for a player who would realistically be the Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s understudy.

The Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, is opposed to any transfer of Saha and has said the player would leave the club “over my dead body”. It now appears there is a price Fulham would sell at, but if the deal fails to materialise Saha could be offered an improved contract to stay at the club.

The Londoners have rebuffed United’s advances so aggressively the Premiership leaders are not as optimistic as they once were about successfully concluding the transfer, but they are still willing to give it a go. Uppermost in their minds is the fact Saha and his advisers have not joined the Fulham hierarchy in rejecting the move out of hand.