Alex Pike has launched a shock bid to bring Matt Paterson back to Gosport Borough.
The 25-year-old striker formed a prolific partnership with Justin Bennett last season but then left Privett Park in the summer to rejoin the Hawks.
During a successful campaign with Borough, Paterson was the subject of several bids from the Westleigh Park outfit but then eventually made the move on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Despite the Hawks’ difficult start to this term, Paterson has scored five goals and is their leading goalscorer.
Now Borough have lodged an initial offer of £7,500 to bring him back – a figure that would smash the £5,000 transfer record they paid for Justin Bennett – but their hopes of securing the striker have taken a hit.
Hawks chairman, Derek Pope, has insisted that the player is not for sale and would not be sold to their local rivals anyway.
Pope said: ‘Matt Paterson is not for sale and I wouldn’t sell him to Gosport anyway, even if they offered £100,000.’
Pike, however, is optimistic a deal can be done and believes the striker could be the vital piece in his jigsaw.
And he knows he would rekindle a successful partnership with Bennett.
‘We have made an offer for him of £7,500 which is based on their valuation of him last January,’ said Pike.
‘I am doing what I think is best for Gosport Borough Football Club.
‘It’s a genuine offer and they have the right to accept it or decline it.
‘I want to sign Matt Paterson so I have made an offer for him.
‘I know he fits into what we are trying to do.
‘Him and Justin Bennett were a prolific partnership together.
‘It’s a proven partnership and it is ready-made.
‘If I can get him back at the club, I think he would be a key part in us trying to get promoted.
‘I think he could help us achieve that.
‘We have submitted a bid and now we wait for a response.’
At any level of football, it’s rare that a transfer approach is made without some kind of encouragement.
But it remains to be seen whether Paterson would be tempted to return to Gosport, even though Pike has been told the player is open to the move.
Pike added: ‘He is a contracted player and I’ve had no contact with him whatsoever.
‘But he is still friends with some of my players and it has been intimated to me that he is not happy there.
‘I don’t think it was ever the case that he wanted to leave us.
‘I was under the impression that he had another year on his contract, which turned out to be wrong.
‘But I never wanted to lose him. He’s a quality player.
‘Then he was made an offer that he felt he couldn’t turn down.
‘It might have been a financial decision and it was probably based on football terms as well.
‘He might have thought they had a better chance of getting promoted than us.
‘But we have got a sponsorship with Aerial Direct, which puts us in a different position these days.
‘We can make this sort of bid for a player I believe would make a big difference to us.
‘We’ll wait and see what happens.’