Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond believes that Leicester have "broken the bank" in the race to sign George Ford.
Sale had hoped to make a statement by bringing Ford to the AJ Bell Stadium next season, with the England fly-half on his way out of Bath at the end of the current campaign.
However Leicester now look set to re-sign Ford, who left the Tigers to initially join Bath and his father and then-head coach Mike Ford back in 2013.
"It's never been a deal [for us]," Diamond told BBC Sport.
"We've not approached him as there is still some legal wrangling going on with Bath.
"It looks like Leicester have broken the bank for him, and a club their size has to do that I think."
Diamond tried to offset any potential disappointment of missing out on Ford by revealing that the club were actively pursuing other targets ahead of the 2017/2018 season.
"We're in the open market looking for five or six players," Diamond added.
"We're well down the line with them and if we don't get the opportunity to speak to George Ford and he signs for Leicester there is not much we can do about it – I think it is his desire is to go there."