Portadown have told Irish League giants chasing star striker and captain Lee Bonis to stump up £100k.
Glentoran, Linfield and Larne are all in the hunt to sign the 22-year-old hitman.
Big-spending Glens are in pole position for Bonis’ signature, but may have to crash through the £100k barrier for the second time in six months after smashing the Irish League transfer record for Shay McCartan last August.
Linfield are unwilling to pay £100k — or more — and have moved to sign Knockbreda striker Ethan Devine instead, though more arrivals are expected at Windsor Park this month.
Larne are also keen to land Bonis but Sunday Life Sport understands the Glens are favourites to sign the Portadown ace, who last year penned a new five-year deal at Shamrock Park.
Ports boss Matty Tipton wants to bring players in this month to boost his squad numbers so it may be that Bonis could leave the Mid-Ulster club in a player plus cash transaction.
McCartan’s transfer to Glentoran last summer saw Glenn Ferguson’s 1998 transfer fee of £55,000 to move from Glenavon to Linfield smashed, with The Oval outfit understood to have parted with £120,000 to secure the former Northern Ireland international’s services.
Sunday Life Sport has been told by a very well-placed source that Portadown are asking for a fee “possibly even north of £100k”, with the bar set by the Glens’ move for McCartan.
With more than four years left on Bonis’ current contract, the Ports are in a strong position with strikers at a premium for clubs hoping to boost their title aspirations.
Bonis himself has spoken of his desire to move into full-time football, last month stating: “My goal is to progress as much as I can and hopefully play full-time football in England or even in the Irish League.”
With the arrival of Michael O’Connor, Sean Murray and Darren Cole already, some Glens players may be allowed to go out on loan or make up part of a deal with Portadown.
Andrew Mitchell has been suggested as an option with Ciaran O’Connor and Mal Smith possibly going out on loan to get more game time.
It is believed that Robbie McDaid will not be leaving Glentoran this month with Oval bosses still hopeful he will stay at the East Belfast club when his contract expires in the summer, but the Blues are equally hopeful that they can land the talented Omagh man.
Devine joined Knockbreda from Cliftonville last July and Linfield boss David Healy hopes to oversee his move to Windsor Park in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Larne are considering a move for Ballymena United skipper Leroy Millar and Coleraine have had a £10,000 offer for Crusaders midfielder Phil Lowry rejected out of hand by the Seaview club.