JON STEAD'S inhuman progress over the last six months made it inevitable there would be seven-figure interest from the Premier League.
Clubs desperate to stay in the top flight realise £1m is chicken feed in terms of the riches it could guarantee if someone like Stead re-produces his goalscoring form at the highest level.
They also know how tempting such a sum must be to a club in the Third Division, especially one which has just emerged from financial crisis and with ongoing debts still to service.
Town fans were elated that Blackburn Rovers' initial bid - understood to be a package topping £1m - was rejected, especially with a blistering run under way at the McAlpine and promotion prospects looking brighter by the week.
Most would love to see Stead stay and spearhead a return to the Second Division at least before moving on, but the fact he has maintained his best form throughout massive speculation about his future shows what a quality act he is.
The Premiership recognise that - it's called big match temperament.
He is a likeable, intelligent young man, too, and one who is mature enough to know that fortunes in football don't come without hard work to match.
Alongside Premiership stars, Stead could flourish and maybe, even, go on to better things - which is why a sell-on clause is imperative.
Not 21 until April, Stead has seemed destined for bigger things since the 2001-02 season, when he finished top scorer in the Academy without winning senior recognition under Lou Macari's drive to the play-offs.
Last season, his first in the League ranks, proved more eventful than Stead could ever have imagined.
In and out of the team under Mick Wadsworth, who gave him a debut as a sub on opening day against Brentford, Town slid towards relegation while the club plummeted into administration and teetered near financial ruin during the summer.
Stead had six senior goals to his credit when Ken Davy's takeover was completed on the eve of the season, but when he launched this campaign with a double in the 2-2 home draw against Cambridge, it seemed certain that the homegrown striker would dominate Town's headlines.
So it has proved and, when Sunderland had an £800,000 bid rejected in October, it only fuelled the interest from the top two divisions.
Stead's form has never wavered, however, and he went into this weekend with 18 goals to his name in 31 starts this term.
He has just kept banging in the goals, exactly like he's been doing since signing for the club from Hepworth United as a nine-year-old and graduating through the Academy age groups.
Everyone expected a fresh upsurge in interest with the transfer window in operation and it was no surprise when 25 scouts attended the McAlpine match with Doncaster earlier this month.
Interestingly, of the eight Premiership clubs represented that day, Blackburn were not among them.
It was after that match that I conducted the last interview of any sort with Stead as a Town player - a media ban being imposed in an effort to keep the 20-year-old focused on the job.
Stead told me: "If a transfer is going to happen it's going to happen, so my plan at the moment is to carry on letting my feet do the talking.
"I had no idea there were so many scouts at the game but I'm sure they were here to watch others, not just myself.
"It simply felt good to put on a performance, to win the game and to get back in the play-off places and if the scouts went home with some nice notes about us then great."
He added: "My heart is with Town, and all I'm thinking about at the moment is doing what I can to help us challenge for promotion, which we are all confident we can do.
"If the club get an acceptable bid and I move on, then I'll do my best for whoever signs me.
"It really is as simple as that and I'll let everything take its course.
"I love playing for Town because they are the club I've always supported, but like all other players, I also want to play at the highest possible level."
Manager Peter Jackson was quickly telling suitors that Stead would not be leaving cheaply and spelled out the club stance that they wanted to keep him.
The rejection yesterday indicates they were being true to their word, but it may well be tested again before the transfer window finally snaps shut on Monday.