Sunderland manager Steve Bruce believes his fear that Liverpool would unsettle Kenwyne Jones has become reality.
The Reds want to sign the Trinidad and Tobago striker and Anfield managing director Christian Purslow has contacted Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn.
Bruce blasted the conduct of Liverpool on Friday before he was aware of the talks between the two clubs, describing attempts to sign Jones on loan as embarrassing.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who needs a replacement for the injured Fernando Torres, refused to hit back at Bruce on Monday.
But the Black Cats boss believes speculation of a move to Anfield has impacted upon Jones, saying: "It certainly has unsettled him.
"His performance on Saturday (against Portsmouth in the FA Cup) reiterated that, and that's my fear.
"With all the speculation and nonsense that is surrounding him, he has had his head turned by a ludicrous notion that we are going to let him out on loan."
Bruce continued: "There's no doubt the boy has got wonderful talent. The thing he has to do is make sure he does it repeatedly and regularly.
"Maybe over the last few weeks with all the nonsense which has been written about him, maybe his focus and his attention has not been playing on a Saturday, it's been elsewhere."
Bruce added: "The situation, I'm led to believe, is led by agents, which I find unhealthy.
"We hope the whole thing is gone to bed and put away."