Joleon Lescott must ponder his next move after Everton formally turned down a transfer request from the defender.
After having bids of £15million and £18million for the player turned down already, Manchester City were ready to look elsewhere for new defenders.
However, over the last 24 hours Mark Hughes was given further cause for optimism that a deal for Lescott might be concluded this week, to the extent that speculation surfaced claiming the 26-year-old might even be available for City's Premier League opener at Blackburn on Saturday.
It appears that those noises did not come from Goodison Park, judging by the forceful statement Everton have issued on their official website this morning.
"I have always said that we are not selling any players and that hasn't changed," manager David Moyes told.www.evertonfc.com.
The latest development leaves Lescott is a difficult situation, with the two obvious options both fraught with problems.
If Lescott, who is currently preparing for England's friendly against Holland in Amsterdam tonight, is determined to leave Merseyside, he could prevaricate long enough to eventually make it pointless trying to keep him.
However, should such a reaction bring out Moyes' cussed streak, Lescott could easily find himself languishing in the reserves for an extended spell, knowing once the August deadline has passed, it would be January before he would finally get his wish to leave.
Such situations have arose on many occasions in the past, most famously with Pierre van Hooijdonk, who once went on strike at Nottingham Forest.
Yet Lescott's England team-mate Gareth Barry went a different route 12 months ago when faced with exactly the same refusal to by Aston Villa in light of interest from Liverpool.
Instead of exacerbating the problem, Barry redoubled his efforts at helping Villa's push for a Champions League spot.
When that eventually ended in failure, Barry was allowed to leave, only by then City had declared their interest and promptly snapped him up.
As Moyes views the Abu Dhabi-backed Blues as a rival in the battle for a top-six berth, he is unlikely to change his mind over the next three weeks, no matter what amount of money City are prepared to throw at the deal.
They do have options. West Ham are unlikely to prove as resistant if Hughes went for Matthew Upson, another man on England duty this week, while former City skipper Sylvain Distin would no doubt leap at the chance of a return to Eastlands given the financial problems affecting Portsmouth.
First though Lescott must decide whether to alienate himself from the Everton faithful, or wave the white flag of surrender.