Diego Costa's chance of a big money move to the Chinese Super League has been thwarted by new rules restricting the number of foreign players in the country.
Newly promoted Tianjin Quanjian had made an offer to the Chelsea striker, as well as other forwards Karim Benzema, Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani.
Costa was dropped for The Blues' 3-0 victory over Leicester City this weekend after he was involved in a training ground row that came in the wake of a £30m-a-year offer from Tianjin.
However, after China's football authorities cut the number of foreign players permitted in a matchday squad from four foreigners and one Asian player to just three foreigners, Tianjin owner Shu Yuhui said the club had been forced to scale back its transfer plans.
"The online reports about Costa, it's true we'd like him and we made an offer for [Edison] Cavani and were deep in negotiations," he told Chinese TV.
"If the rule had been four plus one as in the past, then we would have made a big investment this year, but now it seems to be changed to three.
"This situation has brought a change to our signing plans."
Tianjin, who have never played in China's top tier before, already have five foreigners on their books including Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel who turned down Italian champions Juventus in favour of a £17m-a-year contract in China earlier this month.
"We certainly want the best players to come to China but at the same time we have to respond to the relevant departments promoting this scientific and rational investment in football," Shu said.
"We continue to wait and suffer, but at the end of the day we'll get someone. We have targeted a lot of strikers, and made an offer for Benzema, but with this policy change we are very helpless."