Middlesbrough on Wednesday finally lost patience with Tottenham over their dogged pursuit of Stewart Downing.
Chief executive Keith Lamb attempted to draw a line under a saga that began several years ago, but has gathered pace in recent weeks, when he insisted the 24-year-old England winger will not be sold this month.
His comments came amid speculation, earlier denied by the Teessiders, they had rejected a third offer amounting to £14.5million for Downing. Lamb said: "We again reiterate that no senior players will be leaving this football club during January. That is the end of the matter.
He added: "Any ongoing media speculation is therefore meaningless, and we will not continue to respond to it."
Whether that is indeed the end of the matter remains to be seen, although Spurs are now understood to be considering other options in the belief Boro are unlikely to soften their stance.
That will come as a blow to Downing, who has held several rounds of talks with the club's hierarchy since his written transfer request was rejected on Monday.
Tottenham last week offered a package of up to £8million for a man who only signed a new five-year deal in February and, before the player formally asked to leave, increased their bid to around £13million, £2million of that dependent on appearances.
Reports have suggested the Londoners then returned with an offer of £12.5million up front followed by four instalments of £500,000 each time the midfielder completed 30 games.
Wednesday's riposte is unlikely to come as a surprise to Spurs, who were told in no uncertain terms not to bother making another offer on Monday evening. Lamb said then: "We received a written transfer request from Stewart this morning. It was considered before being rejected."
"Prior to receiving the transfer request, we received an improved offer for Stewart from Tottenham. We immediately rejected this offer and informed Tottenham that Stewart Downing is not for sale and any further interest they have in the player will not be entertained."
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