Wolverhampton Wanderers have told Sunderland that they will have to significantly improve their bid if they are to be tempted into parting with transfer-listed striker Kenny Miller.
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey yesterday responded to revelations that Sunderland had made a seven-figure bid by indicating that the amount offered was not nearly enough.
To obtain a seven-figure offer for a discontented player, a joint record £3 million signing when bought from Rangers in December 2001 and whose contract is due to expire in a year's time, might not seem bad business. But Moxey wants a more realistic price from Sunderland.
He said: "We've had an offer from Sunderland for Kenny and it has been flatly rejected. But that's as far as it goes at the moment.
"The cost of finding a 20-goal replacement would be far greater than what Sunderland have offered in terms of trying to buy a striker of Kenny's age, experience, international status and goalscoring abilities.
"We're aware that he'll be out of contract next summer. And we accept the market may have depreciated since we bought him. But, unless we receive an acceptable offer, one that would enable us to buy a suitable replacement, we'd prefer to keep him here and see him score goals for us.
"If Kenny Miller stays, scores the goals that win us promotion next season and walks away for nothing as a Bosman player at the end of the season, that is more valuable to this club than a cheap sale now."
Moxey's argument is based on previous evidence, that Miller would indeed be expendable if Wolves were to return to the Premiership.
Miller's season in the top flight two years ago, scarred by run-ins with then manager Dave Jones over his frequent substitutions and being played out of position, was not a success.
His shirt, flogged after Miller scored the winning goal against Manchester United by Jones's son on an internet website, actually made more headlines than he did. But he was Wolves' top scorer with 24 goals in their promotion season a year earlier and scored another 20 to be leading marksman again last season.
Miller, who is away in Scotland this week preparing for a World Cup qualifier with Moldova at Hampden tomorrow, remains on the 'list' at Molineux.
His short-tempered streak became more visible on the pitch with every passing week but Wolves would like him to stay.
Moxey said: "Our manager Glenn Hoddle has had some meetings with Kenny about his future. And he has said he won't come off the transfer list. But we're happy with Kenny. He kept his head down and worked very hard to give us a very healthy return in goals."