Chelsea warned that Villa 'will cost £100m'

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The Independent Online

The Valencia president, Juan Soler, said that Chelsea have not made an offer for the club's Spanish international striker David Villa and warned any interested clubs they will have to start negotiations at £100m.

Reports have suggested that Villa is at the top of Jose Mourinho's shopping list during the January transfer window, but Soler is adamant the Spanish side will only let him leave if the player's buy-out clause of £100m is met.

"Officially we have not received any interest or an offer from Chelsea," he said. "I met [Valencia's sporting director, Amedeo] Carboni this morning and he didn't mention anything regarding any possible interest from Chelsea for our striker. We have heard rumours but that is all it is.

"We have no intention of selling him. But should any club be interested, they could sit down and negotiate his buy-out clause, which is currently worth €150mm (£100m)."

Villa scored 25 goals in La Liga last season and was reportedly the subject of a failed £15m bid from Chelsea in the summer. The 24-year-old, who has struck five goals in 12 league appearances this campaign, is under contract at the Mestalla until June 2013.

"Villa is a crucial player for us now and in the future," added Soler.

Chelsea's sporting director Frank Arnesen is in the Spanish city with the Premiership champions' youth team, who will play a friendly against their Valencia counterparts today. But he said he was unaware of any interest in Villa when questioned on the subject by the Spanish media.

"I don't know anything," Arnesen said. "That is an issue of the first team and those matters are dealt with by Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon."

Arnesen, a former Valencia player, admitted he was a fan of Villa, but insisted that the Blues already possessed a strong squad. "He is a very good player, but at Chelsea we already have very good players," he added.

Chelsea are to produce a Mandarin language website in an effort to build the club's brand in China.

The west Londoners have signed a deal with the leading Chinese internet portal SINA, whose own site will carry a link to the new Chelsea site to be launched in mainland China in 2007.

Paul Smith, Chelsea's business affairs director, said that the Chinese website would be "adapted to the culture of that market. This partnership marks the next stage of Chelsea's development in China. Clearly we are becoming more popular and this is the right time to take that to the next level."

Chelsea, who have other partnership deals in China, also have a cooperation agreement with the Chinese Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation to develop grassroots football.

The club's chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "China is a key market for us, but our philosophy is to help Chinese football, as well as our own business, and our partnership with SINA will reflect that."

The SINA chief executive, Charles Chao, said the deal would have "a tremendous influence on football in China."

He added: "The real winners of this co-operation are the fans themselves, who will now have far easier access to the world of football."

Helped by the widespread television coverage of Premier League matches, the Asian market is a lucrative one for leading English clubs and a major destination for pre-season tours.

The Valencia defender Miguel will be out of action for up to three weeks after pulling a thigh muscle in his left leg during training, the club, who lie eighth in La Liga said yesterday.

The Portuguese international will miss next week's Champions League Group D match away to AS Roma. Valencia are already assured of qualification in top spot with one game left to play.

Miguel joins a long list of injuries at the club that includes the strikers Villa and Fernando Morientes, midfielders Edu and Jaime Gavilan and defenders Emiliano Moretti, Asier del Horno and Carlos Marchena.

Midfielder David Albelda, who twisted ligaments in his knee last month, expects to be back in action in around 10 days' time.

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