Bolton Wanderers have confirmed they have begun talks with Chelsea about the sale of Gary Cahill.
The England defender is out of contract at the end of the season and, with the player seemingly intent on leaving, Bolton are looking to cash in on one of their most prized players – possibly to the tune of £7m – when the transfer window opens next month.
The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, made his interest in the 26-year-old public earlier this week with Cahill set to offer, at the very least, much-needed depth in central defence after the Blues accepted a transfer request from Alex earlier this month.
Villas-Boas's interest has apparently moved a step forward in the past few days after Bolton revealed yesterday that negotiations had begun. "Regarding Gary Cahill, there has been dialogue between ourselves and Chelsea. He is a top player and is fully focused on Bolton," a brief statement on their Twitter page read.
Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, remains relaxed and optimistic about Chelsea's title challenge, even with his side still 11 points behind leaders Manchester City. Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Thursday left them in fourth place in the Premier League but Sturridge was confident that there will be no early coronation for City, and that this season's champions will not be decided until the final day.
"It's going to be a tight Premier League race all the way down to the final game," Sturridge said. "I'm looking forward to it – hopefully I can play a big part in the team lifting the league and I do believe we can do that."
Although some fear the two Manchester teams will pull clear of the chasing pack, Sturridge, Chelsea's top scorer with nine goals, including the equaliser at White Hart Lane, believes the League is too competitive for that. "With how things are in the Premier League, nobody is out of the race until the final ball is kicked in the last game," he said.
Sturridge believes he saw two teams each good enough to be champions at White Hart Lane on Thursday. "They played great football, we played great football and it was a great match for the neutral to watch," he said. "They'll be in the title race and so will we – we're top sides."
The Chelsea striker added that the busy Christmas schedule made movement at the top of the table more likely. "It's going to be a difficult period for every team," Sturridge said; "Players will start feeling a bit leggy and lose concentration because of playing so many games: not forgetting Christmas Day when the dinner comes out! You never know what's going to happen but I'm sure points will be dropped."
Chelsea's winter calendar continues on Boxing Day when they host west London rivals Fulham. Martin Jol's side have been inconsistent this season, and lost 5-0 to Manchester United on Wednesday, but Sturridge insisted a challenging match was guaranteed. He said: "They were unlucky against United. Derbies are always difficult and we're not taking them lightly."