Australia striker Tomi Juric has changed his mind at the eleventh hour and rejected a proposed $10 million move to China after holding talks with Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou over where he should pursue his club future.
Juric had been given until 5pm Thursday to ink a three-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua after indicating to the club president he was prepared to sign.
But the striker has instead opted to chase a move to Europe where he believes he will have a better chance of staying involved with the national team beyond this month's AFC Asian Cup.
Shenhua thought it had its man in the bag after agreeing a $1.5-million transfer fee with Western Sydney Wanderers for the 23 year-old, who netted Australia's fourth goal in its rout of Oman on Tuesday night.
But Juric failed to meet the deadline to put pen to paper after talks with Postecoglou in camp in Brisbane ahead of Australia's Group A decider against Korea Republic on Saturday night.
Juric, who is out of contract with the Wanderers at the end of this season, does not have any offers on the table in Europe but opted to make that his priority after weighing up the advice of Postecoglou and the likes of past Socceroos Craig Moore, Sasa Ognenovski and John Kosmina, who had all urged him to put his development as a player ahead of financial considerations.
Ante Alilovic, the Sydney-based agent who was conducting negotiations between Shenhua and the Wanderers, said: "Tomi had talks with Ange over his future and it may be that he told Tomi that he had to live and die by his decisions.
"He told Tomi he picks his players on form but the feeling may also have been given to Tomi by Ange that he would improve more in Europe than China. If I was a national team coach I would have expressed that view.
"Obviously the advice of the ex-Socceroos would also have had an influence. From Shenhua's point of view, they are dsappointed because Tomi made a verbal commitment to join them a week ago and he has gone back on that."