In the four months since Michael Kightly was handed a second chance in League football with Wolverhampton Wanderers it has always been hard to put a price on him.
As is generally the case with any player costing an 'undisclosed fee', confusion reigned from the start as to how much money Wolves had agreed to pay non-League Grays Athletic prior to Kightly signing on the dotted line and completing his move to Molineux on January 1.
It was only on Saturday, having seen Kightly pocket his side another three points by slotting home the only goal of the game to beat Leeds United, that Wolves manager Mick McCarthy revealed just how much of a cut-price bargain the Essex-born winger was.
"Michael Kightly was 25 grand," McCarthy said. "Not the #125,000 I keep seeing in some papers. I don't mind taking the plaudits but I'd like an even bigger pat on the back for this one."
All said with his tongue in his cheek and an almost contented smile on his face, as befits a manager who knows he has unearthed a gem. But, if the initial price Wolves paid for Kightly has at last been established (and what they end up ultimately paying is subject to a few add-ons), a more pertinent and even harder question is: what must he be worth now?
It should be made quite clear that Wolves have no intention of selling a player who, along with Andy Keogh and Stephen Ward, has rapidly won a place in fans' hearts as one of a fresh, exciting, attack-minded threesome of Molineux musketeers.
But it is hard to imagine that, in helping to transform Wolves from mere play-off hopefuls into authentic automatic promotion contenders, Kightly — less than two years on from being shown the door by Southend — has not done enough in his three months as a first-team regular to send his price tag soaring towards seven figures.
Already, he looks up there with the likes of Jason Koumas, Gary McSheffrey and Giles Barnes as the sort of unpredictable player capable of opening any defence at this level on their own.
Manchester United, it should not be forgotten, were only one of the interested parties in Kightly, prior to him tieing down his future with Wolves. But they arrived at the table just too late to tempt him anywhere other than Molineux.
Kightly said: "I knew a little bit about United's interest from Grays but I'm more than happy here. I could not have dreamed for a better start to my time here but I just have to keep it going.
"The biggest difference between the Championship and the Conference is the quality. At Conference level some teams have a couple of good players but at this level you have got good players throughout.
"Playing with better players makes you look better and, if you make runs, they find you better. But I also feel I have learned a lot. I have got sharper and I have got more idea when to use my body to get in the way of the ball.
"When you make the step up you then need to prove to people that you can do it at that level and get respect from your own team-mates and fans. And when I got my first goal I felt myself grow two feet taller. I could feel my confidence had grown in seconds and I started to think that I belong at this level."
Now the 21-year-old, who bagged 24 goals in 45 Conference starts in his 18 months with Grays and also picked up an FA Trophy winner's medal, has got five to his name at a much higher level — with the prospect of many more to come.
Although McCarthy says his #25,000 price tag did not represent much of a risk, he also acknowledges that first breathless moment of excitement at Wolves' Compton Park training ground when he, his No 2 Ian "Taff" Evans and the rest of his staff fully realised just what they had got.
"Right from day one when he first got the ball in training," McCarthy said. "It was Charlie Mulgrew who was up against him and, when he got the ball, let's just say when he went on his first run he made the lads all stand up and take notice. We'd had him watched and had good reports. The scouts and Taff had seen him and, if he says so, that's good enough for me.
"Also, Mark Stimson, the manager down there, gave him good reports and, for 25 grand, it was an absolute 'No-brainer'. Eighteen goals last year and ten this season before he came here. It's not rocket science. I'd have taken a chance with my own money for someone like that."
Coming from a Yorkshireman, who are not exactly renowned for being first at the bar, that pretty much says it all!