West Ham United's desire for Jermain Defoe has moved up a notch with the Londoners reported to have bid £5 million for him.
Sunderland are understood to have rejected the offer which they will view as insulting.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic last week said: "I have a few midfielders from different countries telling me his movement is the best of strikers they have played with.
"He's someone else's player so I don't want to talk about it.”
Black Cats manager David Moyes immediately described Defoe as "priceless".
“No, it wouldn’t be considered,” Moyes said of any bid for their leading scorer. “I don’t think there’s any price because we know that Jermain’s goals are priceless to us.”
Moyes knows selling Defoe would be footballing suicide.
The striker has scored 11 of Sunderland's 19 goals in the Premier League and should they do the unthinkable and sell him, their days in the top flight would, barring a miracle, be over.
The Daily Mirror today reported that West Ham had "made official contact" only for a £5million offer to be "rebuffed".
West Ham are on 22 points, just seven better off than the Wearsiders, and Bilic knows they are far from safe.
The Hammers chief, also worried at being without three stars at the African Cup of Nations, feels Defoe's goals would seal his club's Premier status so is likely to go considerably higher to bring the eastender back to his home club.
But Sunderland would not part with Defoe for £25 million, despite the ex-England forward being 34. Where would they get a replacement for a player of that calibre and at what price?
The forward scored 20 Premier League goals in 2016 and has begun 2017 in brilliant form, scoring a penalty double as the Cats fought back twice to draw 2-2 with Liverpool.
While a Londoner, who had previously never played north of Tottenham, Defoe enjoys living in the North-East and feels a bond with Sunderland and their fans.
The Black Cats brought him back to the Premier League in 2015 after he had left to play in the MLS with Toronto and has played key roles in the club's successful battles against relegation.