Liverpool were reported at the weekend to have made it abundantly clear to Andy Carroll, that unless he moved he could get used to spending the season on the bench.
Yet so far no agreement has been reached, because a fleeting interest from AC Milan aside, Carroll's heart seems set on a move, if anywhere, to Newcastle United.
Aston Villa, Fulham, and most strongly West Ham have all been linked, with the Hammers offering big money for the striker, reported to be in the region of £17 million.
Liverpool turned this down, wanting closer to £20 million for the player they signed for a whopping £35 million just over 18 months ago. So the Hammers have withdrawn their interest, leaving the situation in a state of flux.
From Liverpool's perspective, if they do sell him, then the cash will be available to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham, and there will be a space in the squad for the American. Until they sell, the situation is more complicated especially after spending more than £25 million on Fabio Borini and Joe Allen.
The latest report indicates Newcastle refuse to budge on their £12 million offer. Liverpool want more, much more, and somewhere a compromise will have to be reached.
But Mike Ashley has been known for his shrewd dealings as of late and will not want to overpay like Liverpool did for the striker. They refused to be held to ransom by FC Twente for Luuk de Jong, who went for around £12 million in the end, and will not overpay for their former play.
If Liverpool want rid, which it is clear they do, they will have to take a loss, a big one at that. It is just a question of how much.
By failing to back the striker publicly, and undermining him just when he looked like he may be becoming a useful asset, see the FA Cup Final and Euro 2012, Brendan Rodgers has made life difficult for Carroll and hurt his morale.
With the transfer deadline past approaching, a deal will need to be struck soon if the striker is to get his dream move back to the Toon. Will it happen? Both clubs are engaging in a game of high stakes poker, with neither side willing to reveal how high they want to bid or how low they want to accept.
Liverpool once took an embarrassingly big loss on Robbie Keane, buying him for £20 million and selling him back to Spurs for £12 million just six months later. But that £8 million pales in significance to the £23 million loss they would take on Carroll if Newcastle got their way.
There are new owners in charge now, and they may not be so willing to write him off for so little. If they don't and decide to keep him, then Brendan Rodgers will have to patch things up with him to repair his knocked confidence.
This looks like being one which will go right down to the wire, and it promises to be an interesting yet potentially frustrating end to the month for the striker, but at least once it is over he will know whether he is coming or going and wherever he ends up can get on with enjoying his football again.
image: © Steenbergs