Leroy Sane's future at Manchester City is looking increasingly uncertain just as he steps up his recovery from a serious knee injury.
The Germany winger has been a long-term target for Bayern Munich with the Bundesliga champions desperate to add more attacking options to the squad.
Bayern were initially expected to step up their chase for Sane next summer but reports from Germany suggest that they could make a move as early as this January.
Insiders at City now believe it is becoming almost inevitable that he will leave the club for the Allianz Arena at some point during 2020. Sane has just 18 months remaining on his contract with no sign of a new deal being agreed.
City boss Pep Guardiola has repeatedly said that he wants the 23-year-old to remain at the club but has always maintained that he will not keep any player that doesn't want to be there.
Bayern chased Sane throughout the summer, with their now deposed coach Niko Kovac and club president Uli Hoeness publicly stating their confidence in signing the former Schalke forward.
But City steadfastly refused to do business unless they recouped a figure upwards of £135 million ($176m) - a figure in line with valuations of Europe's top young forwards.
The transfer saga was expected to drag on until the final days of the transfer window but was ended when Sane suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Community Shield in August.
Sane was treated in Austria by Dr Christian Fink, who works for the Germany national team but has also worked with Bayern players including Lucas Hernandez and Corentin Tolisso.
City generally send all their players to Barcelona-based specialist Dr Ramon Cugat, who has overseen treatments for Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne and Oleksandr Zinchenko during Guardiola's time at the club.
Sane's price would be expected to decrease with each passing transfer window as his current deal runs out in June 2021. However, Bayern and the player have a decision to make over whether to speed up a move or hold off until the summer.
Bayern, who are currently seven points behind Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig, could look to expedite a move to give impetus to a challenge for an eighth successive title.
Sane was seen as the perfect replacement for wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, who left in the summer, while he is also free to play in the Champions League having not featured in Europe so far this season.
A forward line of Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Sane would become one of the most frightening in Europe and would put Bayern back among the favourites for a first Champions League success since 2013.
It could also give hope to Sane's ambitions of playing at Euro 2020. Germany boss Joachim Low, who surprisingly left him out his World Cup squad in 2018, said his switch would give a welcome boost to the Bundesliga.
"When a player like Sane returns to the Bundesliga, it is very enjoyable for everyone," Low told German newspaper Bild.
“He has many special features, his own style of play. He would be an attraction for the Bundesliga. Sane would keep the Bundesliga attractive.”
Sane is still weeks away from being considered ready for first-team action, having only just returned to working on the pitch and that could delay any potential move.
His absence has had a major impact at the Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola short of options to rotate his squad as they slipped 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Sane was frustrated at regularly being left out of last season's title-winning run-in, starting just five league games after February and neither of the Champions League quarter-final legs against Tottenham.
His recovery is being taken carefully but it is hoped he could come into contention for the Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid in February should he remain at City.
Guardiola, however, is unable to guarantee he won't leave when the transfer window opens. "Anything can happen," the Catalan said when asked about a possible move in January.