Pep Guardiola pleaded unconvincing ignorance over whether he will go back in for Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez during the January transfer window as one of Manchester City's recent big-money recruit prepares for a reunion with his old employers.
Kyle Walker comes face-to-face with Tottenham on Saturday for the first time in a competitive game since swapping north London for east Manchester.
The England full-back's arrival was one of five major signings secured early in the close season by City – a coordinated and efficient approach that paved the way for their on-going unbeaten start to the Premier League season and 11-point lead at the summit.
As August moved towards September, a protracted and ultimately fruitless pursuit of Sanchez took centre stage.
Arsenal managed to stand firm but the 28-year-old Chile star remains out of contract at the end of this season, meaning speculation linking him with long-established admirer Guardiola is unlikely to go away.
Reinforcement at centre-back, with Southampton's Virgil van Dijk and Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez reported to be the names in the frame, is understood to be City's priority next month but, when asked whether there would be another move for Sanchez, Guardiola replied: "Good question."
Some giggles followed before he added: "[Ask me about matters] on the pitch, you know ....transfer window is for winter time.
"I don't know, believe me, I don't know what we are going to do because it's not…"
Guardiola tailed off and departed his news conference with a grin. He had earlier been more forthcoming in his praise of Walker, a player he considers to be among the best right-backs in world football.
"Right now I'd rate him as one of the best, definitely," said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach. "His energy, he is so strong defensively.
"I'd like to help him solve not just [defensive] problems through his physicality but also through his thinking.
"When you are so strong physically, you solve all the problems that way but when you get to a certain age – 29, 30 – after that you need to think more about what will happen.
"Always I encourage him to think first. Of course, against United [City's 2-1 Manchester derby win last weekend] against Rashford and Martial, who are so fast and so good one-against-one running 40 metres, he was able to control them.
"Few players in the world can control players like Martial and Rashford like he did. That's why he's so, so important to us."
Walker once seemed similarly valuable at Tottenham, where City youth product Kieran Trippier's progression last term made it easier for Mauricio Pochettino to sanction a £50million deal.
Pochettino is looking forward to the reunion and does not fear the financial power of City and others picking further holes in a highly respected squad.
"It's always good to see the players that were with you and players that did a lot for the club, or did a lot for myself, to try to help achieve all that we wanted," he said.
"It's human nature that the players always want to improve and have different challenges and ideas but I'm not worried.
"We know how our project is, who we are and we try to develop our project. We need to win today, tomorrow and in one year, two, three and four years. That is the plan for Tottenham.
"It may be completely different than other teams, where the most important thing is to win today. That is a good point for the debate when people assess us and compare with another team."
20. Juli 2018
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|Merritt leads Barbasol Championship|
|Ruud awakening for Ferrer in Bastad|
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|Fabinho: I´ll try to convince Mbappe to join Liverpool|
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|Saints triumph at second-placed Wigan|
|Anfield atmosphere sweetened Alisson on Liverpool|
|Bouchard reaches Gstaad quarter-finals|
19. Juli 2018
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|Can we go to Paris now? - Thomas in a hurry after conquering Alpe d´Huez|
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|Sarri´s mentality made me a better footballer - Jorginho|
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|Aggressive McIlroy doing it his way, not the fairway|
|I let him have it - Spinazzola ribs Ronaldo over Juve shirt number|
|Thomas makes it back-to-back wins|
|Ramos may remain for Spain but Luis Enrique promising surprises|
|Cazorla still playing through pain after Villarreal appearance|
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|Woods off to a flyer as Thomas charges|
|Sanchez given green light to join Man Utd tour|
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|Luis Enrique hopeful over Pique as he plots a Spanish evolution|
|I had a brain fart - Spieth disappointed with missed opportunity|
|I´ve sacrificed too much to quit, says injury-plagued Rossi|
|Klopp rejects Henderson´s plea to return early to Liverpool training|
|Open champion Spieth loses ground in scrappy finish|
|Alexis Sanchez hints visa issue sorted as United States trip beckons|
|Kovac an admirer of Pavard, expects James to stay|
|Dzeko happy at Roma and eyeing silverware|
|Eels win basement battle with Bulldogs|
|Kluivert to follow Totti´s example after taking ´big step´ with Roma|
|Kisner hopes to return Claret Jug favour to Spieth|
|FIBA bans 13 players & two coaches over Philippines-Australia brawl|
|Spieth and Rahm in the mix as Kisner sets the target|
|Monchi insists Roma remain ambitious as Liverpool close in on Alisson|
|Cavendish thanks ´race that shaped career & heart´ after cruel Tour exit|
|No Trent Bridge Ashes Test as England confirm schedule|
|Ajax tell Barcelona not even ´insane´ money will buy De Ligt, De Jong|
|Hamilton agrees two-year Mercedes extension|
|Uran withdraws from Tour after failing to shake off injuries|
|Spieth tees off Open defence|
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|Risking the curse - Steelers star Brown lands on Madden 19 cover|
|Pogba silenced his critics with World Cup displays – Ibrahimovic|
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|Wilshere excited by tactics of Wenger-like Pellegrini|
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|Persepolis eye Champions League after Iran impress at World Cup|
|Sandy Lyle gets The Open underway at Carnoustie|
|Roosters sign England international Hall|