Pep Guardiola pleaded unconvincing ignorance over whether he will go back in for Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez during the January transfer window as one of Manchester City's recent big-money recruit prepares for a reunion with his old employers.
Kyle Walker comes face-to-face with Tottenham on Saturday for the first time in a competitive game since swapping north London for east Manchester.
The England full-back's arrival was one of five major signings secured early in the close season by City – a coordinated and efficient approach that paved the way for their on-going unbeaten start to the Premier League season and 11-point lead at the summit.
As August moved towards September, a protracted and ultimately fruitless pursuit of Sanchez took centre stage.
Arsenal managed to stand firm but the 28-year-old Chile star remains out of contract at the end of this season, meaning speculation linking him with long-established admirer Guardiola is unlikely to go away.
Reinforcement at centre-back, with Southampton's Virgil van Dijk and Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez reported to be the names in the frame, is understood to be City's priority next month but, when asked whether there would be another move for Sanchez, Guardiola replied: "Good question."
Some giggles followed before he added: "[Ask me about matters] on the pitch, you know ....transfer window is for winter time.
"I don't know, believe me, I don't know what we are going to do because it's not…"
Guardiola tailed off and departed his news conference with a grin. He had earlier been more forthcoming in his praise of Walker, a player he considers to be among the best right-backs in world football.
"Right now I'd rate him as one of the best, definitely," said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach. "His energy, he is so strong defensively.
"I'd like to help him solve not just [defensive] problems through his physicality but also through his thinking.
"When you are so strong physically, you solve all the problems that way but when you get to a certain age – 29, 30 – after that you need to think more about what will happen.
"Always I encourage him to think first. Of course, against United [City's 2-1 Manchester derby win last weekend] against Rashford and Martial, who are so fast and so good one-against-one running 40 metres, he was able to control them.
"Few players in the world can control players like Martial and Rashford like he did. That's why he's so, so important to us."
Walker once seemed similarly valuable at Tottenham, where City youth product Kieran Trippier's progression last term made it easier for Mauricio Pochettino to sanction a £50million deal.
Pochettino is looking forward to the reunion and does not fear the financial power of City and others picking further holes in a highly respected squad.
"It's always good to see the players that were with you and players that did a lot for the club, or did a lot for myself, to try to help achieve all that we wanted," he said.
"It's human nature that the players always want to improve and have different challenges and ideas but I'm not worried.
"We know how our project is, who we are and we try to develop our project. We need to win today, tomorrow and in one year, two, three and four years. That is the plan for Tottenham.
"It may be completely different than other teams, where the most important thing is to win today. That is a good point for the debate when people assess us and compare with another team."
|Insigne prefers Messi to new Juve star Ronaldo|
|Koepka enjoys playing with a chip on the shoulder|
|Ryan Hall to leave Leeds Rhinos amid reports of NRL move|
|Hamann slams Lahm for Low criticism|
|Hart named in Manchester City squad for United States tour|
|F1 Raceweek: Leader Vettel heads home|
|Unfair to pin Brazil blame on Neymar, says Kaka|
|Thomas and friends ´want to beat each other´s brains in´|
|Woods´ love for links fathered at Carnoustie|
|Confident Rose targets tournament wins and number one spot|
|Hallgrimsson leaves Iceland post|
|Australian Open to consult players over fifth-set tie-breaks|
|Daley´s coming home - Ajax rewrite Three Lions anthem|
|Woods: Open my best chance at winning another major|
|Blind completes Ajax return from Manchester United|
|I belong at the top, says Anderson|
|Leaving Madrid was my biggest regret, Panucci warns Ronaldo|
|Folau in no rush to settle future amid Reds rumours|
|Degenkolb: I need two or three secretaries to manage congratulations!|
|Harrington v Garcia: When winning makes life tougher|
|Mafi and Timani fined by Rebels|
|Watson: Johnson and Woods can prosper at Carnoustie|
|Alderweireld hints at Tottenham departure|
|Maradona takes over as Dynamo Brest chairman|
|The Open 2018: Wounded animal Spieth is a danger to Carnoustie rivals|
|Wests´ Reynolds to miss the rest of 2018|
|Pussy Riot members jailed for World Cup final protest|
|Ronaldo capture boosts Serie A - Mourinho|
|Goals at three World Cups and 50 for the Socceroos – Cahill´s international career in numbers|
|Giroud: It´s coming home|
|Harper wins Home Run Derby in Nationals Park|
|Brighton sign Button from Fulham|
|Bolt set to trial with A-League club Central Coast Mariners|
|Thomas asks Seahawks for extension or trade|
|Walker doubts he´ll join Knicks, wants ´long´ stay at Hornets|
|Socceroos hero Cahill retires from internationals|
|Record income revenue for Barcelona|
|Kudla untroubled as Young bows out in Newport|
|Celtics still hoping to re-sign Smart|
|Villarreal sign highly rated Velez midfielder Caseres|
|Juventus signing Ronaldo should give Milan optimism – Kaka|
|Berrettini masters Mayer in Bastad|
|Manchester United and Ajax agree Daley Blind transfer|
|Familiarity with demands of Real Madrid an advantage – Lopetegui|
|Parmentier rallies to avoid Bucharest exit, Arruabarrena bows out in Gstaad|
|Steelers fail to sign Bell to long-term deal|
|Over 10 per cent of Croatia´s population welcomes World Cup heroes home|
|Thierry Henry quits pundit role to focus on coaching|
|France´s World Cup winners given heroes´ welcome in Paris|
|At the end we will see who is best - Ronaldo sidesteps Messi rivalry|
|Qatar? China? Ronaldo only has eyes for glory at Juventus|
|Proud Kane praises team-mates after Golden Boot win|
|The Open 2018 diary: Is that Tiger Woods? Harrington feels the Burn...|
|Porte targeting Vuelta after Tour de France anguish|
|Maradona madness, #WaistcoatWednesday, bruised Batshuayi - Alternative World Cup awards|
|It could be the best time - Martinez hints at Hazard Chelsea exit|
|England call up Billings as cover for injury doubt Roy|
|McIlroy on track for fitting major haul - Harrington|
|Froome plays down Thomas battle for Sky supremacy|
|Carnoustie record counts for little at The Open, says Fleetwood|
|I don´t see it - Napoli chief De Laurentiis plays down talk of Callejon-Suso swap|
|One or two changes required at Chelsea, says Sarri|
|Monaco confirm Golovin approach|
|Let´s keep making noise! - Serena dedicates Wimbledon run to fellow mothers|
|Full list of Open tee times|
|Fakhar inspires another big Pakistan ODI win|
|Spieth ´annoyed´ by re-watch of 13th hole|
|Kaka claims Ronaldo arrival will boost all Italian clubs|
|Spieth vows to be more artist than tactician in Open defence|
|Conte thanks Chelsea players, staff and fans|