Manchester United are ready to play hardball over Wayne Rooney amid an ever more confusing transfer situation.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has cut short his stay in Sydney in order to return to Europe on urgent transfer business. Yet the business does not revolve around Rooney, even though the England striker is at the centre of a wrangle that looks certain to result in his Old Trafford exit, probably to Chelsea though Arsenal remain keen.
However, even as Jose Mourinho was confirming his club's interest in the 27-year-old, United officials were refusing to acknowledge Rooney's transfer is inevitable, insisting Woodward was deadly serious at the weekend when he said the club had no intention of selling their highest-profile player.
This may be just posturing given the sharp downturn in relations between player and club over the past week. But with two years remaining on his contract, Mourinho knows there is not much more he can do other than wait.
He said: "This situation is clear. Nothing is a secret any more. The official bid is just about a certain amount of money. We want the player. We made the bid and now we have nothing more to say. Now it is up to Manchester United."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who saw his star striker Robin van Persie head to Old Trafford last year, is hopeful of persuading Rooney to move the other way, insisting the Gunners have the finances to do so.
"Rooney is under contract and has two years to go so it's United who make the decision," he said in the Sun. "But we would not have a problem with the wages of Rooney."
If Woodward is not dealing with the fall-out from the Rooney affair, the chances are he is trying to progress the transfer of Cesc Fabregas. United remain confident of securing the services of Fabregas despite Barcelona's insistence the player wants to remain at the Nou Camp.
Senior figures within the Red Devils camp are of the opinion Fabregas wishes to join them, although it may take more than the £26million they bid for the player earlier this week to persuade Barcelona to accept.
Even this situation is not straightforward given Fabregas has a clause in his contract which would ensure Arsenal were made aware of any developments.