Barcelona have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Jean-Michäel Seri, following the emergence that the Nice midfielder's release clause expired over a month ago.
Barcelona had been expected to pay buy-out this week
Having stepped up their efforts to sign Seri, Barça had appeared set to pay his 40-million-euro buy-out figure this week, with Los Azulgranas understood to have agreed a four-year contract with the Ivory Coast international.
However, L'Equipe reports that the clause in the 26-year-old's Nice contract was only effective until 15 July, leaving Barça now facing the prospect of having to negotiate a fee with chiefs of the Ligue 1 club.
LaLiga giants could end up paying well above 40m
Nice are fully aware of Barça's pressing desire to add to their squad and, with time running out in the summer window, the situation could see his fee rise considerably above 40 million.
Barcelona unveiled midfielder Paulinho on Thursday, but continue to be frustrated in their attempts to sign Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembélé as they seek to replace winger Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record 222 million euros this month.
The Catalans' summer business has also seen them purchase right-back Nelson Semedo from Benfica and re-sign winger Gerard Deulofeu from Everton.