SWANSEA City are ready to play hardball over Joe Allen after rejecting Liverpool's £12 million bid for their midfield star.
The Reds lodged the megamoney offer earlier this week but were told no by Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.
Swansea are now likely to demand that Liverpool meet a £15 million release clause in Allen's Liberty Stadium contract — and even then it is not guaranteed they will sell.
Swansea say Liverpool are one of a number of clubs who have expressed an interest in Allen, with the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United also being touted as potential suitors.
But Swansea have stressed again that they are in no rush to sell the Welsh international starlet.
And they have also reiterated that a clause in the compensation package which took former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers to Anfield back in May states that he cannot return for any of his former players until next summer.
Allen has not put in a transfer request, but it is understood the 22-year-old is interested in joining Rodgers on Merseyside.
If Liverpool do offer £15 million for his services and Swansea say no because of the Rodgers compensation clause, it could be that the case ends up in the hands of lawyers.
It may be that Allen's camp argue that an agreement between Swansea and Liverpool regarding Rodgers is nothing to do with the player and should not interfere with his career.
As part of their opening bid for Allen, Liverpool offered Swansea the chance to take promising midfielder Jonjo Shelvey on a season-long loan.
But Swansea have indicated that Michael Laudrup has no interest in the former Charlton youngster.
Whether any other Reds players will be offered in part exchange — and whether Swansea show any interest — remains to be seen.
Last night the Swans released a statement confirming Liverpool's interest.
A club spokesman said: "Swansea City can confirm that Liverpool have expressed an interest in Joe Allen, despite a written agreement with Liverpool not to approach any players within the 12-month period of former manager Brendan Rodgers leaving for Anfield.
"There has also been interest from other clubs regarding his possible availability and the club is due to speak to Joe, as originally planned, about the situation when he returns from GB duty.
"The club is not prepared to release any details on whether any formal bids have been made at this stage or details of Joe's contract, which are private and confidential. The club is extremely disappointed that speculation regarding certain aspects of his contract has been released to the media by parties outside the club.
"Fortunately the club is in a financial position where it does not need to sell any of its players and will continue to work in the best interests of its supporters, who are our priority, and the club to provide new manager Michael Laudrup with the best opportunity to be successful in the forthcoming Premier League campaign."
Allen, who is in action for the Team GB Olympic side in Manchester tonight, has made no comment as yet on the Liverpool speculation.
The Pembrokeshire product has been at Swansea since he was just nine years old and has just enjoyed two superb seasons.
While he was not looking for a move this summer, the Liverpool opportunity is one that tempts him.
Allen can expect a massive pay rise should he follow Rodgers north, and he would also get the chance to play for a club who are looking to compete at the top end of the Premier League next season.
The fact that he already knows the Liverpool manager well is an added bonus. But it seems Rodgers will have to up his bid for a player he rated as Swansea's best performer last season if a transfer is to happen.
The clause in Allen's Swansea deal — a four-year agreement he signed last summer — states that the club must sell if Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal offer £15 million for him.
Somewhat worryingly for Swansea, it is believed any other club could get the player for a sum of around £10 million because of a second clause in Allen's contract at the Liberty.
Jenkins is currently with the Swansea squad on their pre-season tour of America.
Laudrup's players were this morning flying to California for the second leg of their trip after losing their opening friendly at Colorado Rapids.
Michel Vorm did not feature in that game, but Swansea say their first-choice goalkeeper is not injured and was left out because he returned to pre-season training later than his colleagues following Euro 2012.