Everton have rejected a £25m offer from Chelsea for Ross Barkley, but the England midfielder could still leave the club before Thursday’s deadline.
Chelsea’s offer was below Everton’s original £50m price tag – but it is likely this will be reduced as Barkley has one year left on his contract.
The 23-year-old has turned down a new deal at his boyhood club.
His situation is further complicated by a serious hamstring injury which could keep him out for three months.
The academy graduate has played 150 times for Everton in the Premier League, scoring 21 times since making his debut six years ago.
In July manager Ronald Koeman said the club “100%” expected Barkley to leave Goodison Park.
Analysis – who will make the next move?
Koeman never appeared completely satisfied with Barkley’s contributions last season, including removing him at half-time in the early-season win at Sunderland.
It seems his mixed relationship with Koeman, coupled with a desire to play Champions League football, has left Barkley wishing to leave the club he supported as a boy.
Chelsea’s move for Barkley may just be the opening gambit in a game that will continue right up until the transfer deadline on 31 August.
Chelsea are likely to come back to the negotiating table but now the next move may well come from Spurs as they weigh up one of their trademark late moves in the transfer market.
There will be sadness among many at Everton if he leaves but he is also regarded as a player with vast unfulfilled potential as he reaches a pivotal point in his career.