Wigan Athletic's attempts to land Portsmouth star Jamal Lowe took an intriguing twist on Saturday with the in-demand forward stood down from pre-season duty by his club.
Pompey's 17-goal top scorer from last term is top of Paul Cook's wanted list, with Latics understood to have failed with two bids in the last week for his services.
The 24-year-old's absence from Portsmouth's 2-1 friendly win over Hawks - after initially being named in the starting line-up - did little to hose down the speculation.
And Pompey boss Kenny Jackett says the ball is in Wigan's court regarding the next step, after confirming 'extensive talks' are going on behind the scenes.
"I gave Jamal the weekend off, as I did Ross McCrorie," said Jackett.
"With Jamal, as you would have seen, I had many, many talks with him during the course of the week about his future, about his position at the club.
"And I felt it best by the end of the week that he needs to think about things and needed a breather.
"There have been no bids agreed but, as everybody is aware, the clubs have been talking.
"It’s a big call, a big call for Jamal, we have to get the balance right between being right for the player, but well prepared for Portsmouth.
"There were extensive talks and I’m sure they will go on.
"I considered it (playing him) right up until Thursday and Friday, he has been fully fit and not missed any sessions.
"But, as it got towards Friday, I spoke to him again and decided against playing him."
Jackett says Pompey have already rejected a couple of bids for a player they value in the region of £3million.
"There have been two bids for Jamal this week – and we have turned those bids down," he told the Portsmouth News, sister paper of the Wigan Post.
"Whether there are going to be increased ones, I don’t know, but obviously for the board of directors the amount wasn’t enough.
"I am always kept informed, but they don’t make the bids to me, it is done at boardroom level and done correctly and properly, that is the way it should be.
"Obviously nobody is looking to try to sell Jamal this summer, he is not a player that is for sale.
"But he is someone a lot of clubs are interested in, hence the bids."
Lowe would become the fourth Portsmouth player to follow Cook and Leam Richardson north, following in the footsteps of Gary Roberts, Noel Hunt and Kal Naismith.