Slaven Bilic held his weekly press conference this morning and cranked up the heat on Sunderland a further few notches by again declaring his admiration for Jermain Defoe.
In a classic Redknapp-esque encounter in front of the cameras, the West Ham boss opened by declaring, on the subject of his January targets, "I'm not going to talk about names in public", before going on to wax lyrically about the player owned by Sunderland:
He has the things that are most important in football games - that's goals. He scored them last season, he was probably the main reason why they stayed up, and then continues to do the same this season - scoring again.
In every game he is having chances and most of the chances he is converting into goals. He is an excellent player of course.
Most sources now appear to agree that the Hammers have made at least one bid for Defoe which Sunderland have rejected. But, the intense speculation surrounding his future now lands heavily on the shoulders of David Moyes - a position he has never been entirely comfortable with in his public-facing history.
The Sunderland boss faces the media tomorrow, and he is bound to bristle and suggest his inquisitors move the subject along when he faces the cameras, but there are three questions which be must be asked, regardless of his willingness to answer them.
1. Have Sunderland A Price In Mind At Which They Will Agree To A Sale?
The speculation today appears to have concluded that Sunderland value Jermain Defoe at a price of £15m. That's more than double what West Ham have supposedly bid so far.
Every player at every club outside of the world's richest few has a price at which they would be sold. And Sunderland are far from the wealthiest outfit operating in Europe's elite leagues.
With crippling debts and a manoeuvrability in the market hampered by a huge wage bill - particularly as a percentage of income - and the resulting restraint that has because of Financial Fair Play regulations, Sunderland are quite possibly ripe for a picking by clubs with healthier accounts.
£15m for any 34-year-old would ordinarily be viewed as a good piece of business. The foresight to have tied the ageing Defoe down on a deal to 2019 last summer now looks to have been a visionary piece of business. Is this really the asking price that Sunderland have set?
But, selling Defoe is a huge gamble. Would it guarantee relegation? Quite probably.
2. Does Defoe Really Have That Relegation Clause In His Contract?
Last week's suggestion that when Jermain Defoe and his people renegotiated his current deal in the summer, it had a clause inserted into it that he could leave for free should Sunderland be relegated, has now become a widely established fact.
Rumours tend to - if they're repeated often enough - become accepted as gospel. But, no one has asked anyone at Sunderland if this is the case, and the club certainly haven't confirmed or denied the suggestion.
But with relegation a very real prospect - odds-on in fact - the existence of that clause could shed some serious light on the current furore about the prospect of selling Jermain Defoe.
Because if we do face a very real threat of him leaving on a free in the summer, £15m cashed in now might just be a little more palatable. Not a lot mind you, but a little.
3. Has Defoe Made Any Indication He Has, Or Will Be, Seeking A Move?
The most likely manner in which Jermain Defoe will leave Sunderland this January is if he asks to.
A transfer request would force Sunderland's hand and in all truth there is little prospect of the club blocking such a move if the player himself makes a formal plea to leave.
Disgruntled players are the last thing needed for a relegation fight, even for a player with the apparent professionalism and dedication that Jermain Defoe possesses.
And after all that - if David Moyes hasn't kicked out any of the journalists lined up in front of him as a result of a few questions, or if a club lackey hasn't demanded the pressmen stick to the script - perhaps one of them might politely suggest that he has a quiet word with Jermain Defoe and ask him to publicly or privately commit himself to the next few months in a Sunderland shirt. Thanks.