The president of Lyon has issued another firm denial that Moussa Dembele will be sold this month amid links with Chelsea and Manchester United.
The former Celtic striker is one of the most in-demand centre-forwards in Europe, given the way he has adapted to life in Ligue 1.
In 18 months with Lyon so far, he has scored 34 goals in 74 appearances, seeing his price tag rise to around the £50m mark.
The former Fulham attacker has subsequently been linked with a move back to England, with Chelsea identifying him as a potential target as they look to add more competition for top scorer Tammy Abraham.
Backup strikers Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi are both said to be considering their futures ahead of Euro 2020, meaning the Blues may need to look for more cover up front.
Giroud has been linked with a move to Inter Milan, and Frank Lampard has opened up on the rumours linking him with an exit.
“With Ollie the situation is, if it’s right for everybody, and first and foremost that’s us as the club, then we’ll look at whether he can leave the club,” he said recently.
“He’s been a great professional here, who has continued to train professionally without many opportunities. But I still have to make a decision for the football club, and nothing’s done yet.
“Everyone’s talking about it so I’m not going to beat around the bush. I think his agent has spoken to the club, but until anything’s done he’s a Chelsea player.”
Aston Villa have made ambitious enquiries of their own for Giroud, as they desperately seek a replacement for Wesley, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Batshuayi has also come under consideration at Villa Park, but has fewer links away than Giroud at present – even with Belgium national team manager Roberto Martinez admitting that the 26-year-old needs to play more regularly if he wants to feature at the European Championships this summer.
It was believed that Chelsea had already reached a verbal agreement with Dembele over moving to Stamford Bridge – but Frank Lampard admitted he was surprised by the frequency of the links.
“He’s a player I know and a player the club know,” Lampard admitted, “but I’m surprised to see his name crop up so frequently in relation to us to be brutally honest.
“And I could say the same thing about a number of players this week. I don’t want to go cut and dried on anyone. But it’s not one we’re openly talking about.”
Manchester United are also among the contenders for Dembele’s signature, as they too are struggling for alternatives to main striker Marcus Rashford.
Mason Greenwood has impressed when called upon, but United may be looking for a more experienced and proven addition to their frontline.
The Red Devils are understood to have scouted Dembele within the past week, and he caught the eye with goals in each of the games they watched.
A third Premier League contender could be Tottenham Hotspur, who are looking for cover for Harry Kane after the striker was ruled out for most of the season.
However, all three clubs look set to be disappointed in their pursuit of Dembele, as outspoken Lyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas has once again reiterated his strong stance on his future.
“We have not changed our minds,” Aulas told RMC Sport. “We already made this issue clear in August.
“Moussa is an excellent player. A player who we need.
“We are taking explicit measures in our recruitment to not bring someone in who will compete for his position.
“It is not a question of money. Moussa will be with us.”