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."
|Super Bowl LII: Three key match-ups between Eagles and Patriots|
|Vermaelen sidelined for two weeks|
|Silva ranks Man City star De Bruyne with Ronaldo among world´s best|
|Djokovic and Thiem stunned at Australian Open, Federer eases through|
|Strikers ease past Renegades to book home semi-final|
|Chung revels in victory over ´idol´ Djokovic|
|Former England captain Armfield dies aged 82|
|Suffering Djokovic dumped out of Australian Open by Chung|
|Robinho set to join Sivasspor|
|´I don´t know if this is a dream´ - Sandgren stunned as remarkable run continues|
|Van Persie´s Feyenoord return ´beautiful and special´|
|Kepa pens new Athletic Bilbao deal amid Madrid speculation|
|I had pain everywhere - Halep determined to battle injury|
|PSG star Mbappe holds no grudge against Lopes after Lyon collision|
|Messi makes football better, says beaten Real Betis goalkeeper|
|Federer relishing Berdych reunion at Australian Open|
|Goretzka accepts vitriol from Schalke fans after Bayern move|
|What am I getting for my birthday? Arsenal-bound Mkhitaryan celebrates with Pogba|
|Halep sails into quarters after overpowering Osaka|
|Ince: Sanchez snubbed City because United are miles bigger|
|Federer sets up another Berdych showdown|
|Black Caps cruise past Pakistan in first T20|
|Bale: Madrid will get back to their best|
|Pacers snap Spurs´ home streak|
|Kerber survives scare en route to quarters|
|Valverde: Messi is the best player there is and there ever will be|
|NFC championship Game: Three takeaways from Eagles´ win over Vikings|
|Holland, Richardson added to squad for South Africa tour|
|Rahm struggling to believe he´s world number two|
|No more miracles for Vikings as Eagles cruise to Super Bowl|
|Trout wears dog mask to support Eagles|
|Emery: Lyon loss unfair on PSG|
|Rahm wins CareerBuilder Challenge on fourth play-off hole|
|AFC Championship Game: Three takeaways from Patriots´ win over Jaguars|
|Spalletti defends struggling Inter amid six-game winless run|
|Holding: Kohli not great until he scores runs in England|
|Fekir: Lyon still targeting Champions League despite PSG win|
|J.J. Watt named Walter Payton Man of the Year finalist|
|Wenger suggests Sanchez is joining Manchester United for money|
|Brady produces stunning fourth-quarter comeback as Patriots reach 10th Super Bowl|
|Hazard: Chelsea don´t need to buy a striker|
|Rakitic hails ´patient´ Barcelona after Real Betis rout|
|Neymar? I´d rather watch the golf, says Bale|
|Mbappe injury from goalkeeper collision ´nothing serious´|
|Don´t look back - Guardiola gives Manchester City title warning|
|Vermaelen to face tests on new hamstring injury|
|Conte wants ´point of reference´ striker as Barnes joins surprising Chelsea links|
|Sane the perfect tonic to Sanchez blues for City and Guardiola|
|Suarez scores 100th LaLiga goal as Messi reaches new milestones|
|Irving scores 40 points on return but Celtics lose again|
|Lyon 2 Paris Saint-Germain 1: 10-man leaders downed by twin wondergoals|
|Inter 1 Roma 1: Vecino snatches point on possible Dzeko farewell|
|Real Betis 0 Barcelona 5: Messi, Suarez rampant as leaders go 11 points clear|
|PSG star Mbappe injured in goalkeeper collision|
|Smith rejects ball tampering talk|
|Monchi: Roma will replace Dzeko|
|Kessie a far better player than I was, claims AC Milan coach Gattuso|
|Neymar to Real Madrid stories manufactured by Spanish press, claims Marquinhos|
|Brady active with taped throwing hand for AFC Championship Game|
|Cagliari 1 AC Milan 2: Kessie at the double in comeback win|
|Watford hire Javi Gracia as Marco Silva successor|
|I am happy with our squad - Pochettino denies Malcom rumours|
|Not much changed - Zidane boosted by clinical Madrid|
|No chance of January move, says Vidal|
|Saracens edge into last eight as Wasps and Ulster miss out|
|Selfie or stitches? Ronaldo bloodied after Madrid brace|
|Heynckes hails Bayern win: This is what sets us apart|
|Southampton 1 Tottenham 1: Kane earns visitors a point|
|Silva assured of chances at AC Milan after latest first-team snub|
|Saracens scrape into Champions Cup last eight|