Skysports.com understands that Rochdale have rejected a bid from Middlesbrough for Craig Dawson.
The 20-year-old stopper is regarded as one of the best central defenders in the lower leagues and has been linked with the likes of Tottenham and Fulham.
But in recent weeks, Gordon Strachan's Boro have moved to the head of the queue and they lodged a bid earlier this week.
The offer, believed to be around £400,000, has been turned down by Dale - who won promotion to League One this season.
Former Manchester City trainee Dawson joined Dale in 2009 following a spell in non-league with Radcliffe Borough,
It now remains to be seen whether Boro will return and up their offer.
The North East club are in need of fresh defensive recruitments, as they have confirmed that Chris Riggott has now left the club.
Riggott was offered a new deal, but on reduced terms, and the former Derby star has decided to try his luck elsewhere.
Boro are also still in talks with out-of-contract defenders Emanuel Pogatetz and Jonathan Grounds, whilst they are still hoping to land the permanent signature of Stephen McManus.
McManus, on loan from Celtic, is travelling with the rest of the Boro squad on a close-season training trip to La Manga this weekend.