MANCHESTER United are still trying to prise striker David Bellion away from Sunderland before the transfer window closes tomorrow.

Reports last week suggesting the deal was dead were premature.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is confident he will land Frenchman Bellion - if not now, then in the summer when he is out of contract at the Stadium of Light.

The 20-year-old has rejected a new three-year deal with Sunderland, and United have offered them a down payment of £500,000 rising to £1m.

But Sunderland's valuation is at least three times as much and relations between the clubs are severely strained after the Wearsiders last week wrote to the Premier League to complain that United had set out to unsettle Bellion.

Sunderland chairman Bob Murray accused United of "despicable'' and "shabby'' conduct, claiming they were effectively guilty of an illegal approach. United have refuted the charge.

Murray's anger boiled over when Bellion went AWOL and returned to France, insisting he wasn't "mentally right'' to play for Sunderland.

He has since returned, but he will remain in limbo until the end of the season unless Murray - facing calls to quit from fans after the 1-0 home defeat by Southampton - agrees to do business with United this week.

Read more about Sunderland here.