The widely respected Italian football newspaper Gazetta was today not taking Glenn Roeder's “That's probably your answer then…' line for granted as it repeated the claim that Fiorentina striker Arturo Lupoli was on his way to Norwich.
His absence from yesterday's opening pre-season friendly of the summer – a 12-0 romp against Sciliar – was noted; complete with the claim that he was England-bound.
Nor was Channel Four's Football Italia taking the City manager's line wholly at face value either; like many of those present at Emerald Park on Wednesday night when the question was first posed as to the Lupoli link, Roeder's employment of the word 'probably…' was telling.
All of which found Channel Four giving the official statement on the Fiorentina official website a wider airing this morning.
“Fiorentina announces it has received an offer from English club Norwich City Football Club for the permanent transfer of striker Arturo Lupoli,” read an official Fiorentina statement.
“Fiorentina would be willing to transfer the player on a temporary basis. The negotiations will continue in the coming days.”
The one-time free-scoring Arsenal starlet signed a five-year deal with the Tuscan Serie A giants when his Gunners contract expired last summer. Last season, however, and the 21-year-old was farmed out to Treviso FBC in Serie B as Mutu, Vieri and Co took centre-stage. He has yet to make an appearance for the Viola.
With four-years still to run on his Fiorentina contract and the knowledge that, aged 17, he was the hottest teenage property in Italian football with an extraordinary goal-scoring record for Parma at Under-17 level, the Viola may be wary of letting Lupoli slip out of their hands on a full-time basis; another year's loan covers their backs should he blossom again in the Championship.
Roeder won't have too much trouble doing his homework on the striker – one phone call to his long-time pal Arsene Wenger should fill in the missing details regarding the young man's character; he certainly shone at Derby where he scored seven goals in 34 appearances for the Rams.
Last year, however, and he clearly drifted out of the picture with Treviso; failing to score a goal. A fresh start back in England could yet be just the kick-start he needs.
If the City manager's need for additional firepower was urgent before, it gained an even more desperate edge overnight after Manchester City boss Mark Hughes confirmed that Ched Evans would not be coming out to play on loan for this transfer window. Whether his mind will have changed come next January remains to be seen.
For now, however, and last season's smash-hit loan star will be staying firmly put at Eastlands having impressed Hughes with his early summer form – he was a 74th minute substitute in City's UEFA Cup opener against EB Streymur.
“Ched has been excellent in pre-season and I am glad we have secured him on a long-term contract now,” said Hughes, speaking after City's comfortable 2-0 win. The problem with Hughes is that he's Welsh – and therefore knows all too much about Evans' efforts for the Principality for Roeder's liking.
“He has a big future and that has been demonstrated by the amount of phone calls I have had from Championship managers wanting to get him out on loan,” added the new Eastlands chief – with one of those calls likely to have been from an '01603…' number.
“But I think I am going to frustrate a lot of teams at that level because he will not be going anywhere in this transfer window.”
Reports in the North-East suggested that the Canaries had been rebuffed in a ?1 million bid for Newcastle United's England Under-19 star Andy Carroll – the only trouble there being that the Evening Chronicle also reported that the strapping six-footer was now likely to be out until at least September after “a freak holiday accident” left him with a leg in plaster.
“Freak holiday accidents” and young Premiership footballers can cover a whole multitude of sins; for now that one looks a no-go. It might, however, just push Shola Ameobi back up Kevin Keegan's pecking order – so determined are the St James' Park hierachy to get the 26-year-old on his way that they have yet to give him a squad number for the 2008-2009 season.
Likewise City's eleventh-hour pursuit of Linfield hero Peter Thompson would appear to have drawn a blank as the Canaries refused to get involved in an auction with Stockport County for 'Pistol Pete'. The player could still throw a spanner into the Hatters' works if he preferred to be No3 or No4 in a Championship pecking order as opposed to the main man at Edgeley Park.
Dejan Stefanovic was still expected to be unveiled as a City player over the next 24-hours; David Bell's proposed ?600,000 switch from Luton appears to have got stuck somewhere around the medical stage while Stefanovic's teenage pal Elliot Omozusi remains very much on the Roeder radar – that could be one where last-minute agent fun and games over loan fees could be queering everyone's pitch.
High time for Delia Smith to give her long-time pal Roy Hodgson another nudge.