Melbourne City are prepared to let problem child Bruno Fornaroli languish on the sidelines for the remainder of the season, rather than release him to a top-six rival.
The Uruguayan marquee hasn’t played since November, with his fitness levels and attitude not up to the rigours of coach Warren Joyce, and he is out of contract at season’s end.
City will not consider allowing the 31-year-old - recently the subject of a potential swap deal with Perth Glory’s Andy Keogh - join the likes of Glory, Sydney FC or Adelaide United.
The pockets of the City Football Group are deep, and the club’s hierarchy are willing to pay the remainder of star striker’s $1.4 million salary rather than face the fan backlash of sanctioning his exit to a direct rival.
Despite the Fornaroli standoff, Joyce has cemented City into the top six - nine points adrift of leaders Perth but 11 clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets.
Which means the Englishman has effectively won his war of attrition with fan favourite Fornaroli.
However, the club concede there is a gaping void to fill in the final third and the arrival of an attacker during this month’s transfer window is highly likely.
Socceroos striker Andrew Nabbout is one potential target, amongst others.
The CFG believe the club culture being shaped by Joyce is key to long-term success and stability, and far more important than pandering to the peccadilloes of one player. In this instance Fornaroli.
At the conclusion of the season, Fornaroli will then be free to sign for anybody with City’s blessing.
Vice chairman Simon Pearce, who is also on the board of Manchester City, summarized City’s ethos in a pre-dinner speech prior to the recent 2-2 derby daw with Melbourne Victory.
He made clear CFG’s steadfast commitment to its Australian satellite, and playing its role in developing the game here.
“Melbourne City and CFG are committed to Australia and to all aspects of the Australian game. His Highness Sheikh Mansour and Melbourne City’s chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak are aware that for Melbourne City to succeed it must do so as one of many ships on a rising tide of Australian football’s development and success,'' Pearce told guests.
"Melbourne City strengthens each year and we will not make decisions for short term returns over medium and long term sustainable success.''
Aside from those generalities, Pearce made one reference which was considered to pertain to the Fornaroli situation.
Doubling down on the club’s over-arching vision, he stressed: “That means holding the line on what the club stands for even when that stance produces immediate inconveniences."
“Only in this way can you create a culture of excellence and an identity that attracts quality.That’s not always readily understood by people.
"We are five years into our Melbourne City journey. When we celebrate our 10th anniversary, I promise you, just like Manchester City, we will have already hit a critical point in our development where the hard and unwavering work of these initial seasons will pay ongoing dividends.''