Speculation about a move for Henrikh Mkhitaryan has built to such a level that I have found myself capable of writing his name at high speed without checking it. The level of certainty that Liverpool were about to recruit the free-scoring midfielder has only been reinforced by the comparatively brisk and efficient way the club has done its business thus far.
However, this evening there comes a not-unexpected hitch in the hitherto smooth progress, with Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive, Sergei Palkin, claiming that the club are reluctant to sell Mkhitaryan, having lost too many big stars already.
Speaking to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, and quoted here via The Daily Mail, Palkin spelt out the club's position with regard to any move away for Mkhitaryan, whether the destination be Liverpool or elsewhere.
"As you know there have been too many conversations about Henrikh Mkhitaryan," Palkin insisted. "But the situation has been strongly and artificially inflated. I can say that we have had no communication from any member of Liverpool. Henrikh is an important player in our team. Shakhtar want to keep him but we are willing to listen and consider all proposals for his transfer. We have already parted with Willian and Fernandinnho but the club will not just sell players. Soon we will also strengthen ourselves with quality players, designed to replace those who have left."
I see nothing particularly unusual or alarming in Palkin's position. If anything, he seems to be encouraging a last minute bidding war with other clubs, lest everyone think the move to Liverpool was a fait accompli. This may have the desired effect and drive the players price higher but with a fee likely for Luis Suarez and fifteen million pounds today banked from the sale of Andy Carroll, the club can likely budge a little in order to get their man.