Birmingham City chairman David Gold last night voiced his fear that former St Andrew's blue-eyed boy Mikael Forssell would not return to the club next season.
Gold was responding to suggestions that the Chelsea striker, who enjoyed a hugely successful 2003-04 season onloan with Birmingham, had already agreed to spend the new campaign with Steve Bruce's men.
The 24-year-old had been reported in the national press as having committed himself to another season with Blues but while Gold openly admitted that he and Bruce would love to bring the Finland international back to the Midlands, he also expressed his pessimism that he would.
Gold cited Forssell's recent appearances in the Stamford Bridge first team as detrimental to Birmingham's cause and also said that he knows the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, is already an admirer of the former Crystal Palace player.
Both factors suggest Birmingham fans have seen the last of the striker whose 17 league goals kept the club in the Premiership last season.
"I am not optimistic about getting him back, I am a realist," said Gold. "I hope I am wrong from Birmingham's point of view because we know what he did for us and what he could do again.
"But where there is a chance of him playing for Chelsea, we have got to say it is very difficult to direct players out of such a situation.
"We will do everything we can to bring him back to Birmingham City, there is no question in my mind of that. But I cannot see it."
Forssell started the current term with Blues only to suffer a knee injury which ended his year and forced him to go back to the Londoners to rehabilitate.
His last appearance for Birmingham was in September and he only returned to action last month when he came on as a substitute in the Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich.
Since then he has played in his first Premiership game for six months, in last Saturday's 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic, and looks set for further game-time over the next couple of matches.
"He is on the fringes and sometimes actually in the team - he came on in the Champions League quarterfinal," said Gold.
"When those things start to happen to a young player he thinks he is going to be in the Chelsea starting line-up."
The failure of Didier Drogba to justify his £24 million price-tag could also have a knock-on effect for Blues' hopes of signing the Finn.
"Chelsea have not reaped the rewards of the money they have spent on Didier Drogba so there is every chance that could give Mikael an opportunity.
"I know that their manager likes his attitude but who wouldn't? That is what drew us to him in the first place.
"From our point of view it is distressing because we want him to come to Birmingham but it's not as if he is choosing between Chelsea and Real Madrid."
Gold does not believe the transfer is a lost cause, however. With Mourinho widely reported to be interested in a catalogue of other forwards, Forssell might be tempted by another loan deal if he feels he will spend next season on the sidelines.
"His one dilemma will be that he loves to play which not all footballers do," Gold explained. "Perhaps he will be persuaded that if he comes to Birmingham he will play week-in-week-out where there will be none of this squad rotation business.
"I am hoping that he thinks to himself that as part of his rehabilitation he will do one more year with Birmingham City, score another 20 goals and then go back."
Reports in Spain claim Birmingham have reached an agreement for the permanent signing of midfielder Mehdi Nafti in a £1 million deal - but again Gold was cautious about the deal and suggested there was still work to be done.
The Tunisia international joined Blues on loan from Racing Santander during the January transfer window and although that deal only runs until the end of the season Bruce has seen enough to
push ahead with a permanent transfer.
The Spanish daily Marca claimed that a Birmingham delegation flew out to Spain to meet their Racing counterparts last Friday and put a deal in place for the summer.
They say the club will pay E1.5 million to land Nafti who will put pen to paper on a three-year contract.
It represents good business for cash-strapped Racing who bought the 26-year-old from Toulouse for around £60,000 in the 2000-01 campaign.
Nafti has just one more season left on his current Racing deal and the Primera outfit are keen to ensure they recoup a fee for his services rather than lose him as a free agent this time next year.