Hendry Thomas won't be joining Latics after the Home Office knocked back his application for a work permit.
The Honduras midfielder was due to move to the JJB Stadium on a season-long loan from Deportivo Olimpia with a view to a permanent transfer.
But a Home Office appeal tribunal in London ruled he didn't qualify for a work permit because he hadn't played the required number of international matches.
There is no further right of appeal and the 23-year-old will now return to Honduras after arriving in England last weekend. Latics boss Steve Bruce now has to switch targets in his bid to strengthen the
midfield, but in the future could make another move for Thomas once he's played enough games for his country.
For non-European Union players to be granted a work permit, they have to have played in 75% of their country's recent international fixtures.
While he has 16 full caps, Thomas isn't yet a regular for Honduras, but he was captain of their Under-23 side, which has qualified for the Olympics.
At the appeal hearing, Bruce and general manager John Benson argued that the Olympic qualifiers should count towards the quota of
They reasoned that Thomas had often been left out of the senior Honduras side in favour of skippering the Under-23s – Honduras made a determined effort to qualify for the Olympics and are proud to have reached the Beijing Games.
But the argument fell on deaf ears, much to the dismay of club and player.
Bruce said: "We're bitterly disappointed at the decision. Hendry is gutted...he was desperate to come here and we wanted him.
"He's a real talent and I believe he would have added plenty of quality to our squad."
Latics had spent months tracking Thomas, alerted to his talents after signing Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa from Olimpia last season.
Benson travelled to Miami to negotiate the deal towards the end of last term, before Bruce watched him play for Honduras against Venezuela in Florida in May.
There won't be the same problem with regards to signing Figueroa, the left-back due to join soon on loan for the season.