Toronto FC president Bill Manning reiterated Friday there has been no formal offer from a club in China or elsewhere for star striker Sebastian Giovinco.
The Italian's agent has been stoking the fire in recent weeks, telling Sky Sports Italy that there have been huge offers for Giovinco from deep-pocketed Chinese clubs. The update this week from agent Andrea D'Amico was Giovinco had said no "for now" because the money wasn't right for him or Toronto.
Manning told a different story, saying the MLS team had not received any formal offer.
"There was a little smoke, there were agents involved," he told reporters after a fan breakfast. "The hard part is you don't know what's real and what's not so you get a lot of talk, but we never got an official offer from a club.
"And so at the end of the day there was smoke but there was nothing to it."
The transfer window for both MLS and Chinese clubs does not close until the end of the month, but Manning says Giovinco has made it clear he doesn't want to leave.
So why has his agent kept raising the issue?
"I'm not the one to ask that question to," Manning said.
"At the end of the day there is a business out there for agents to drum up business … It's not uncommon for agents to broker deals with other agents and so on and that's what I think was happening here," he added. "But at the end of the day our position is always we have to deal directly with a club."
D'Amico did not respond to an email request for comment on potential interest in Giovinco.
Giovinco, chosen MVP in his first year in MLS in 2015, is entering the third year of a five-year contract that also has a one-year option. He made $7.12-million (U.S.) last season, second only to Orlando's Kaka, $7.17-million.
Talk of Giovinco leaving is a sensitive issue among TFC fans as Manning found out when, asked on the podium about transfer rumours surrounding his star player, he drew some boos after joking "I'm still waiting for the cheque."
"A lot of what you read was rubbish," he said more seriously. "It was fabricated, to tell you the truth. I think China is a market that is throwing out a lot of money. And so I think agents play the aura of China right now with all this money that's out there."
Manning did say he was working on new deals for GM Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Greg Vanney, both of whom are entering the final year of their contracts.
"Both are very talented … I want to build this thing with them for many years to come," Manning said.