Manchester City's bid to buy out the sell-on clause in the contract of rising star Micah Richards has been rejected by Oldham.
Defender Richards is seemingly attracting considerable attention from several Premiership clubs, notably Spurs who are being linked with a £5million move for the 18-year-old.
Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are also rumoured to be targeting Richards, who made a major impact last season after breaking through into manager Stuart Pearce's plans.
Although City are determined to hang onto one of their crown jewels, money talks as was the case exactly a year ago when Shaun Wright-Phillips joined Chelsea for £21million.
Richards was signed by City four years ago from Oldham's Centre of Excellence, and is currently under contract at Eastlands until 2008, although there is talk of the club looking to make an improved offer.
But in covering their options, as Richards yesterday made clear his future may one day lie elsewhere, City had hoped to persuade Oldham to agree a figure for the 20% sell-on clause, one that could eventually net them at least a seven-figure sum.
But a statement on Athletic's website said: 'The club can now confirm City have been in touch with a suggestion they buy out the clause which could eventually net a six-figure sum.
'Our polite reply was: 'Thanks but no thanks.'
Richards could ultimately be lured away from City if one of the Premiership's big guns come calling as he has said: 'For now I am with Manchester City, but I can't always say I'll be a Manchester City player in the future.
'At the end of the day everyone wants to better their career, and if Chelsea, Arsenal or wherever was the right place to go, I'd have to consider it, wouldn't I?
'Obviously there has been interest from different clubs. After only 15 starts the interest is unbelievable really. It's good to know, but my dad just keeps telling me to keep my feet on the ground, keep working hard and things will pay off.'
Richards is not the only star City are apparently looking to tie up long term as skipper Sylvain Distin is believed to have been offered a new three-year contract which would make him the highest-paid player at the club.
The French centre-back, though, is seemingly keeping his options open, with Middlesbrough and Portsmouth monitoring the situation.