Liverpool have rejected a loan bid from Southampton for out-of-favour defender Mamadou Sakho as they hold out for permanent offers.
It has long been known that the Frenchman's future lies away from Anfield after disciplinary breaches meant his relationship with manager Jürgen Klopp broke down in the summer.
But the Reds are keen to ensure Sakho, who they value at around £20 million, leaves on a permanent basis this month and rejected an approach from the Saints - who were looking to take him on loan until the end of the season.
Liverpool haven't allowed Sakho to play in the club's recent Under-23s matches in attempt to avoid an injury that would threaten any deal, such is their desire to rid themselves of the former fans' favourite.
Sakho hasn't played for Liverpool's senior side since April 2016, scoring in a 4-0 rout of Everton at Anfield, but his standing at the club has freefalled since following a damaging FIFA drugs scandal and misbehaviour on the club's pre-season tour of the United States.
Several clubs are thought to be showing interest in the 26-year-old, including Premier League clubs Swansea City and Crystal Palace and even flying La Liga outfit Sevilla.
Liverpool looking to recoup fee spent on defender four years ago
Liverpool are however holding out for a deal that suits them, believing Sakho's quality and experience - despite his lack of recent first-team football - makes him a valuable asset.
Tiago Ilori, another to have spent time in the U23s this season, has recently been allowed to leave the club. He finally completed his £3.75 million transfer to Reading on Wednesday.
And Liverpool would have no qualms over letting Sakho go either, with Klopp confident that Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva present sufficient back-up to first-choice centre-half options Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.
Liverpool's EFL Cup semi-final opponents Southampton are one club keen on Sakho, with manager Claude Puel resigned to losing captain Jose Fonte this month.
The Portuguese centre-back handed in a transfer request earlier in January and is thought to be in talks with West Ham United over a potential £8 million move.
Former Paris Saint-Germain captain Sakho, who cost Liverpool £18 million back in 2013, is reportedly keen on staying in England with Southampton his first choice of destination.
Asked about Sakho recently, Saints boss Puel said: "I know this player but I know nothing about this, it's speculation. We have a reflection about this possibility to see another centre-back if Jose Fonte left. For the moment it's not the situation."
He later added that the south coast club could possibly "stay with the same squad" and that they "will see this when we reflect" upon Fonte's seemingly inevitable departure.