The clock is ticking on a game of transfer poker around Christos Tzolis, Fortuna and old club Norwich City.

Tzolis’ blistering loan season for Bundesliga 2 club Fortuna ended in promotion play-off heartache, but the Germans were swift to exercise an option to buy, reported at €3.5m.

But the original deal negotiated with City 12 months ago included an exit clause that is set to see Tzolis move on again this summer, with the Canaries liable for a sell on cut.

Tzolis can leave Fortuna for €6m before July 15, with Bundesliga trio Werder Bremen, Union Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach, plus Olympiacos in his homeland, already linked.

Now Mainz 05 appear to head the queue, with the 22-year-old tipped to replace highly-rated German international Brajan Gruda, who is reportedly attracting interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Should potential suitors not exercise that buy option before mid-July then Tzolis and his camp have made it clear to Fortuna they still expect to move on this summer, with the German club needing to generate funds to re-invest in their squad. 

The player himself is not interested in another tilt at the second tier, after 29 goal contributions in 30 loan appearances.

"I wanted to continue with Fortuna but I think it's really difficult for me to stay now in the second division,” he said.

“Fortuna will be in my heart forever and is one of my favourite clubs. The fans deserve better, and I hope Fortuna can be in the Bundesliga next season."

Tzolis is in the Greek squad on Friday who face Euro2024 hosts Germany in a pre-tournament friendly, and Fortuna general manager, Klaus Allofs, has admitted they are powerless to keep the attacker.

"We can't influence it," he said, referring to the exit clause. "If a club comes along that puts the money on the table and the player wants to do that, we can't stop it.

“The contract negotiated a year ago could only be concluded with one restriction. It contains an exit clause with the possibility for the player to change clubs again during the upcoming transfer period under certain conditions."

Fortuna looked odds on to seal promotion when they beat Bochum 3-0 away in the first leg of a promotion play-off, but lost on penalties after losing by the same scoreline at home.

Tzolis flopped at Carrow Road after a big-money move from PAOK prior to the club’s tilt at the Premier League in August 2021. He made an eye-catching League Cup debut with a brace against Bournemouth, but scored only one league goal in six starts, and also spent time on loan in the Netherlands with FC Twente.