Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has insisted there is no deal in place to sell Spanish full-back Jose Enrique to Liverpool. Speculation has been rife in recent months that the former Villarreal full-back will leave Tyneside during the summer after putting talks over a new contract on hold.
Former Liverpool player and assistant manager Phil Thompson said in a television interview over the weekend he understood a deal had been done, a claim on which Newcastle were not prepared to comment.
However, Pardew, who has repeatedly spoken of his hopes of persuading the club's first-choice left-back to extend his stay at St James' Park, is adamant that is not the case.
He said: "There's definitely no deal between the clubs – 100 per cent. He's under contract here until next summer and we hope to open talks on a new deal as soon as possible. That's where we are.
"We want to keep our best players, and Jose's one of them. As far as anything being a done deal, that's not true. We want Jose to stay. Nothing's changed."
Pardew's comments are likely to do little to placate fans concerned that one of the club's most consistent players could be heading for the exit doors.
Striker Andy Carroll was ultimately prised out of the manager's grasp by Liverpool's £35million January bid after repeated assurances he was going nowhere. Indeed, Carroll had signed a new long-term contract just months earlier.
Newcastle had hoped both Enrique and midfielder Joey Barton would sign new contracts at the turn of the year, but the defender, having been linked with the likes of Bayern Munich and Milan, decided to wait until after the club's Premier League status was assured.
Barton also decided not to commit himself in the wake of Carroll's departure, preferring instead to wait for the club to persuade him of their ambition by tying up the likes of Enrique and skipper Kevin Nolan as well as targeting new signings during the summer.
The Spaniard endured a tough first couple of season on Tyneside after making a £6.3m switch from La Liga in August 2007.
However, he has developed into a genuine Premier League player and it is no surprise he has attracted the interest of prospective purchasers. The word in the north-east has been for some time that his future lies away from St James, and his retention or otherwise will represent a major test of how owner Mike Ashley's blueprint for the future is viewed within the dressing room.
Pardew has been handed a boost by the news a scan on striker Shola Ameobi's knee injury has revealed no lasting damage. The 29-year-old missed Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa because of the problem, but he is expected to return to full training by the weekend and could be in contention for Tuesday night's game with leaders Manchester United.
Winger Ahmed Elmohamady, meanwhile, has signalled his intention to complete a permanent move to Sunderland despite interest from other clubs. The 23-year-old is currently on a season-long loan deal at the Stadium of Light from the Egyptian club ENPPI, and Sunderland have informed them that they intend to take up an option to buy him at the end of the season.
That has not put off a series of suitors, with Arsenal and West Brom among several clubs to have been linked with Elmohamady in recent weeks. However, the Egypt international is ready to commit his future to Sunderland.
He said: "I would like to move here in the summer, if the manager wants to sign me. I like it here at Sunderland and I am happy. I know the other players, I know the manager and the fans have been very good to me. It's a very good club. There has been other interest in me – three other clubs that I know about, in England and abroad.
"But I am not interested in going anywhere else. I want to come to Sunderland, and my club back in Egypt are happy for me to come here."