Patrick Kluivert has told Chelsea that they will have to pay him £160,000 a week if they wish to sign him from Barcelona.
The club dampened speculation arising from a meeting between the club's new owner, Roman Abramovich, and the England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, yesterday by assuring their manager Claudio Ranieri that his position is safe. But Abramovich's wealth is proving unexpectedly problematic in transfer negotiations as players and agents increase their wage demands.
Kluivert is asking for such an inflated salary because of a clause in his contract with Barcelona that makes him available for a mere £1.2m. The wages would mean that the Dutch striker would be paid twice as much as any other player in English football.
Kluivert has been told to adjust his demands and he could yet earn around £80,000 a week, with both Chelsea and Barcelona waiting on his answer.
The Catalans are poised to move for Auxerre's French striker, Djibril Cissé, if Kluivert moves on, but that may be a ploy by the club president, Joan Laporta, to force Kluivert into making a decision.
Chelsea have also been told that their bid to sign the Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids was lodged too late.
Abramovich is willing to offer close to £10m for Davids, but the general manager of the Italian club, Luciano Moggi, said: "We would have sold Davids to Chelsea a month ago but now there is no time for us to re-plan the team."
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