New Stoke City manager Paul Lambert has "no intention" of allowing Peter Crouch to leave the club before the January transfer deadline following a reported approach for the veteran striker from Chelsea.
Antonio Conte seems desperate to secure the services of a traditional target man before the end of the month to provide an alternative to misfiring first-choice forward Alvaro Morata.
Attentions surprisingly appeared to turn to Crouch last week after it emerged that West Ham United's Andy Carroll could require surgery on an ankle injury that looks likely to keep him sidelined for an extended period of time.
It was reported that Chelsea had made inquiries to Stoke regarding the towering former Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and England frontman, who will celebrate his 37th birthday next week and is tied to Stoke until the summer of 2019 after signing a contract extension in November.
Mark Hughes' successor Lambert introduced Crouch as a 77th-minute replacement for goalscorer Mame Biram Diouf in his first game in charge of struggling Stoke on Saturday (20 January) - a morale-boosting 2-0 home defeat of Huddersfield Town that lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone - and seems determined to retain the services of an influential and seasoned campaigner who evidently made a quick impression on him during initial discussions.
"It wasn't a chat about his future," he said of a positive first meeting between the pair, per the Stoke Sentinel. "It was just to get to know him. I've no intention of letting him go. If there's a nicer person in football I've yet to meet him.
"What a lad he is. His game hasn't changed since he was a young guy. He's never going to run in behind - that's not his game. But what he has got is an incredible presence. Lovely touch for a big guy. Great work ethic, knows the game really well and an absolutely fantastic professional the way he conducts himself. That alone to a club is huge."
Chelsea are also rumoured to have reignited their pursuit of Tottenham Hotspur's Fernando Llorente as part of that quest to sign a big target man, while other surprise names currently being linked with moves to Stamford Bridge include Burnley's Ashley Barnes and Islam Slimani of Leicester City.
Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke is also believed to be under consideration as Morata's current deputy, Michy Batshuayi, edges closer to an exit. According to the Mail, former Manchester City attacker Edin Dzeko could soon be heading back to English football along with teammate Emerson Palmieri as the Blues close in on a £52m ($72.2m) double deal with AS Roma.
Roma sporting director Monchi recently pledged to sign a replacement for Dzeko in the event that he does depart the Stadio Olimpico, while head coach Eusebio Di Francesco insisted that the Bosnian remains a pivotal player for the Giallorossi after naming him in the starting XI for the 1-1 Serie A draw at Inter Milan on Sunday night in which a late equaliser from Matias Velcino cancelled out Stephan El Shaarawy's first-half opener.
"Dzeko is an important player, but if you want to talk about the transfer market then you need to talk to the club," he told Mediaset, per ESPN. "Edin's a Roma player and I will field any of the players I have at my disposal."