Reading manager Brian McDermott insists the club have not received a concrete bid for Shane Long from Leicester City, but reveals the chances of the striker playing at the Madejski Stadium this season remain 50/50 amid reported interest from West Ham and Liverpool.
The 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international has been the subject of much media speculation this summer, after the Royals failed to win promotion back to the Barclays Premier League, losing in the Championship play-off final to Swansea City.
McDermott's intentions for Long to spearhead his forward line for Reading in 2011-12 has looked increasingly unlikely after it was recently reported that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish sent scouts to cast their eye over Long in a pre-season friendly ahead of a prospective move to Anfield.
Promotion-favourites West Ham have also been credited with an interest in the striker, as Hammers boss Sam Allardyce looks to build an Upton Park squad capable of an immediate return to the top-flight.
But moves to Liverpool or West Ham have failed to materialise, and reports yesterday suggested that big-spending Leicester - who have signed no less than nine players already this summer, were looking to hijack the deal with a £7.5million bid.
McDermott denied that was the case, and said that if Long goes anywhere it will be to a Barclays Premier League club - putting Liverpool back in the frame to land his signature.
"We've had contact from Leicester very early in the summer but we've had no £7.5million email drop on our doorstep," he said. "For me, Shane Long belongs in the Premiership, and we were inches away from the Premier League last year.
"If it’s a Championship club and it's Leicester who offer that kind of money then it will be down to the board. My view on Shane Long is he is a Premiership player and I'd sign him for any Premier League team that I was involved with."
Liverpool have already been busy in the transfer window having recruited the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Alexander Doni, and Shane Long could be the final piece of the Anfield jigsaw going into the new campaign.
"I'd love to think it's a possibility he'll stay," added McDermott. "I would say its 50/50.
"If a Premier League club comes in for him and the deal is right, then he'll be gone. We'll just have to wait and see but from our point of view we'd love to keep him."