Didier Drogba's hopes of an immediate move to a European club from Shanghai Shenhua have been dashed by FIFA.
The Ivory Coast international striker was being linked with a loan move to former club Chelsea after the Chinese Super League ended this month.
The 34-year-old requested special permission to join another club outside the international transfer window to maintain his fitness levels ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which starts on 19 January in South Africa.
However, FIFA upheld its rules in previous cases when making Major League Soccer players David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan wait until January to make loan moves.
FIFA said in a statement: "We can confirm that the player Didier Drogba submitted a request for authorisation to be registered outside an open registration period for a club on a loan basis.
"FIFA has informed him about the relevant regulations... that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association."
FIFA said the only exception was when a player's contract expired outside a transfer window.