NEWELL’S Old Boys have given up in their pursuit of Blackburn Rovers’ midfielder Mauro Formica after they were told the play maker was ‘not for sale’.

The Argentine outfit were keen to seal the return of their former crowd favourite – having sold him to Ewood Park for in the region of £3.5million in 2011 – but have now accepted the move will not happen.

Several other clubs in South America are also understood to be tracking the 24-year-old but Rovers are set to stay firm in their stance that he is not for sale.

New Rovers boss Michael Appleton has already been linked with a couple of potential transfer targets, including West Brom’s young midfield ace George Thorne, although it is understood the Baggies would not allow his exit, and former Ewood favourite David Bentley – currently on loan at Russian side FC Rostov from Spurs.

Appleton is set to meet with global advisor Shebby Singh for the first time today, with talks between them and managing director Derek Shaw about possible transfer targets set to be held in the next few days.

He will also face a battle to keep some of the club’s current squad, with West Ham United refusing to give up in their pursuit of Martin Olsson and a number of clubs looking at goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Meanwhile Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston has dismissed rumours that a fall-out between him and Michael Appleton had sparked the latter’s move to Ewood Park last week.

Appleton starts work at Rovers today, having only been appointed Blackpool boss nine weeks ago, but Oyston insists a “very high offer” was his reason for quitting Bloomfield Road.

He said: “There’s no fall-out. That’s one of the more easily dismissible rumours going. We should dismiss it because it’s factually incorrect.

“Derek Shaw (Blackburn Rovers’ managing director) called me and asked for permission to speak to Michael. He’s contractually entitled to leave if he gets a better offer.

“Michael’s spoken to Blackburn and it’s a particularly good offer for him. In his shoes, most people would have done the same thing. The level of the offer was very high and I believe it’s longer term.

“Disappointment has got to be tempered with some realism – in particular, the fact that there’s so much money at stake.

“Whatever people have signed and whatever the morals involved in walking out of contracts are, you’d have to be a very robust character not to chase that sort of offer.

“It’s not a shock at all. These things happen in football pretty regularly.

“Fans follow football throughout the world and anyone who’s shocked by this is very naive, frankly.

“It’s not unheard of in football that people get better offers and move on. It’s part of the very nature of the sport that we all follow.”