Manchester City will have to break their transfer record for the second time in 48 hours to seal a spectacular deadline-day deal for Riyad Mahrez.
Leicester's Algeria winger has put in a transfer request after City, who signed Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao for £57million on Tuesday, had a surprise bid of £50m rejected.
Leicester want nearly twice that for Mahrez, who has two-and-a-half years left on his £100,000-a-week contract. The 26-year-old is desperate to leave and did not train with the rest of his team-mates on Tuesday.
Mahrez may refuse to play at Everton on Wednesday night to force through a move as the clock ticks down on the January window.
Pep Guardiola did not rule out signing Mahrez to strengthen his attack for the rest of the season after confirming that Leroy Sane will be out for between six and seven weeks with ankle ligament damage. City are already without striker Gabriel Jesus due to a knee injury.
'It's so difficult,' said Guardiola. 'It happened with Laporte because it's a buy-out clause. When you have to negotiate it's so complicated. Right now, it's the same as Alexis Sanchez and Laporte. It's not the place to talk about it.
'I have interest in a lot of players, good players. There are many. The window is open until January 31. We spoke many times with the club to see what is the best with the players we have.
'We have just three strikers with Raheem Sterling for the next month and a half. Gabriel is coming maybe in the next five or six weeks. We don't have too much and we play every three days. We have to find solutions.'
Mahrez, a £400,000 signing from Le Havre in 2014, has been determined to leave Leicester for some time and issued a statement last May stating his reasons for wanting to go.
He underlined his ambition in an interview with Sportsmail last month, saying: 'Of course, I want to win more trophies. I've always had the ambition to win a lot of trophies. It's what we are playing for. At the end of your career, what you will keep in your head is the memory of winning trophies — Premier League, Champions League. Those are the only things you remember.'
However, the club's Thai owners do not need to sell and rejected a bid of £32m from Roma in the summer amid interest from a number of other Premier League teams. They are reluctant to lose the 2016 PFA Player of the Year without having time to buy a replacement before the window closes, and it would take a huge bid to persuade them otherwise.
Leicester believe Philippe Coutinho's £145m transfer to Barcelona and the £75m paid by Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk are benchmarks for valuing Mahrez. Guardiola admitted on Tuesday it is '95-99 per cent' certain there will be no other signings in this transfer window, but added: 'In, football everything can happen.'
Signing Laporte has taken the Spaniard's spending on new players to £450m since he took over at the Etihad 19 months ago — with £240m going on defenders.
Guardiola defended that figure as he pointed out that rival clubs are spending more after Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona broke the £100m barrier for Neymar and Coutinho. He said: 'Some clubs spend £300m-£400m on two players. We spend £300m on six players. At this stage, when you are Manchester City, when you want to compete at the highest level, you need to spend.'
Guardiola paid tribute to Laporte, who turned down City 18 months ago in favour of furthering his career at Bilbao. The 23-year-old Frenchman's arrival could see his compatriot Eliaquim Mangala leave City on Wednesday, with West Ham, Newcastle and Valencia all interested in signing him on loan.
'We were going to do it in the summer,' said Guardiola. 'But I said to the club if Laporte can come now then it's better. He decided not to do it 18 months ago but now he is here.
'We are very aware of his skills. Since a young age he has played in La Liga so he has been on the big stages, playing in the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp.'
The uncapped Laporte hopes that joining City will improve his chances of being called up to France's squad for the World Cup. 'I hope so,' he said. 'I'm coming to a big club to achieve great things and obviously, the World Cup is a big thing.'
City face West Bromwich on Wednesday night at the Etihad Stadium and are smarting from the damaged ankle ligaments caused to Sane by a late challenge from Cardiff's Joe Bennett in Sunday's FA Cup clash.
It will rule the German out of next month's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal.
Guardiola has pleaded for football's 'artists' to be protected by referees but Albion boss Alan Pardew promised his side would also play tough against the runaway Premier League leaders. 'Maybe we should get him (Guardiola) a video of what it was like in 1972,' said Pardew.
'Check a First Division game, then you'd see a lack of protection. I understand his point, perhaps the challenge the other day was mistimed a bit. I understand you want to protect these great players.
'You don't want to see them leave through injury. But you still have to play rough and tough to have a chance. We'll go there with a tough gameplan, but we will not be encouraging those sort of challenges for sure.'