Manchester City will not improve on their £20m offer for Joleon Lescott and are confident that, having dropped him from his squad, David Moyes now has no option but to do business.
By exiling him and publicly criticising the defender, it is difficult to see how the Everton manager could welcome Lescott back to Goodison Park, especially if he could secure the services of Newcastle's Steven Taylor as a replacement.
When asked if Moyes' comment this week that "every player has his price" indicated that Everton's concern was now not to prevent Lescott leaving but to secure the best fee for the 27-year-old, the Manchester City manager, Mark Hughes, replied: "That is what I suggest may be at the heart of it. We have not gone back to the table but whether there has been a thaw in Everton's stance remains to be seen."
Despite the fierce criticism directed at him by Moyes – particularly that he had not dealt with him on a manager to manager basis – Hughes argued that it was natural that moneyed clubs such as Manchester City and Real Madrid would antagonise others.
"It comes with the territory," he said. "We have been criticised for the way we have gone about things – sometimes correctly, sometimes unfairly. The reaction from some quarters has been quite predictable and we haven't been surprised by some of the things we have heard. People will shout from the rooftops about the amount of money we have been spending.
"I wouldn't call it jealousy – that is a strong emotion. But a lot of people have an interest in what Manchester City do and sometimes that can be an unhealthy interest. We just get on with the business in hand which is to make the club stronger."
Hughes said he was unconcerned by Moyes' argument that he should have contacted his counterpart at Goodison directly. "I am not the sort of person who is always on the phone to other managers," he said. "It is not something I do. At some point in time, you hand over negotiations to people who have to sign the cheques. No manager likes to lose their better players but sometimes people take an interest in them and you have to deal with that. But we have taken the final step and what happens now is dependent on Everton."
Although the signing of Lescott is widely thought to mean the beginning of the end of Richard Dunne's time at Eastlands, Hughes said the Manchester City captain still had a future at the club, despite interest from Aston Villa and Sunderland.
"I spoke to Richard before the start of the season and told him we are looking to get better quality into the club," he said.
"If we aspire to be a top club, that is what we have to do. But I told him there is a role here for everybody – this is a fantastic opportunity, if you want to be part of it."Reuse content