Sheffield United will press ahead with their attempt to sign Ipswich Town centre-forward Martyn Waghorn, believing the 28-year-old has his heart set on a move to Bramall Lane.
Although Chris Wilder has publicly played down United's interest, describing Waghorn's valuation as prohibitive, The Star understands talks remain on-going with officials from Portman Road.
Sources close to the negotiation process last night suggested a representative acting on Wilder's behalf was quoted an asking price of £7.5m after first making contact with their Championship rivals. Although United acknowledge they must break their transfer record for the second time this summer in order to secure Waghorn's release, Wilder and his coaching staff are attempting to reach a compromise agreement which would see the former Rangers marksman join John Egan and Dean Henderson in South Yorkshire ahead of next month's meeting with Swansea City.
Waghorn, who scored 16 goals and completed 11 assists last season, is believed to be tempted by the prospect of a return north after beginning his career with Sunderland. That, combined with Paul Hurst's refusal to guarantee he will start the new campaign in Suffolk, has convinced United to maintain their line of communication with the former Shrewsbury chief's employers.
"I’ve said to Martyn I would like him to stay at the football club and we’ll see how that unfolds," Hurst, the Ipswich manager, admitted after confirming United's interest.
"I’d love to be able to say to you and the listeners 100% that Martyn Waghorn will be in the team against Blackburn but I can’t honestly say that. But at the minute I don’t think we are close to meeting the valuation for the player and, really, I’d like him here."
Wilder, who spent around £4m to secure Egan's release from Brentford, has made a striker his top priority ahead of August 31st's transfer deadline. Aston Villa's Scott Hogan also boasts admirers at United but is not thought to be available for loan while Southampton's Sam Gallagher and Liverpool's Ben Woodburn are other confirmed targets.
Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough have also been linked with Waghorn, whose contract is set to expire within 12 months. Despite suggestions Ipswich could extend it for a further season, that could force them to sell if the player asks to leave.
Egan, aged 25, is expected to make his first appearance for United since leaving Griffin Park during tomorrow's friendly at Mansfield Town and could also feature when Internazionale visit Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.