Cole move to Blues stalls as Arsenal hold out for £25m

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The Independent Football

Ashley Cole's on-off transfer to Chelsea took another twist last night as Arsenal were said to have rejected a £16m offer ­ instead insisting that they want £25m from the Stamford Bridge outfit.

The clubs are finally said to have entered into talks after months of speculation over the England defender's future, but Arsenal are believed to have turned down the opening offer, with the caveat that they are prepared to do business if the Blues improve their offer by about £9m.

Cole signed a 12-month contract extension last year on the apparent understanding that he could leave for about £16m this summer so he is unlikely to be enamoured by the latest turn in events.

In other transfer news yesterday, Ruud van Nistelrooy was back training with Manchester United but Bayern Munich remain confident they will secure his services. The Bundesliga club admit their valuation of the Netherlands striker falls short of the £15m asking price, but their honorary president, Franz Beckenbauer, believes there is room for manoeuvre.

Beckenbauer is already exploring the possibility of offering Roy Makaay or Claudio Pizarro should Van Nistelrooy join. "We are ¤5m [£3.4m] away from United's valuation but the chances are still high," he said. " But if it does work out, I could imagine us giving away Roy Makaay or Claudio Pizarro."

It would have been no great surprise if Van Nistelrooy had backed out of yesterday's session. Instead, he joined many of his senior team-mates including the England contingent at the club's training ground and it is still possible he could be involved in a friendly against Celtic at Parkhead tomorrow, or a match with Preston next weekend.

Steven Gerrard has admitted that he is keen to take over from David Beckham as England captain. "Of course I would like to be England captain," the Liverpool midfielder said yesterday. "It is the kind of thing every player dreams about. But I am not the kind of player to talk about it and try and get it that way.

"The decision is down to [England manager] Steve McClaren and if it comes my way then great ­ if not, whoever gets the job will have my full support." Gerrard is a leading contender along with Chelsea's John Terry and Frank Lampard.

Their England team-mate Wayne Rooney was again in the news last night, with reports that his move to Manchester United was hastened by his dislike of his former manager at Everton, David Moyes.

Extracts from Rooney's autobiography, My Story So Far, claim that Moyes was jealous of the then teenage prodigy's success. One extract reads: " There was only one person who seemed upset and envious of what was happening to me and that was Moyes."

The 26-year-old striker Rob Hulse, has joined Sheffield United from Leeds United for an initial fee of £2.2m. The manager of the new Premiership side, Neil Warnock, said: "We have agreed terms with them, and he is having a medical [today], and I don't think we are far away from agreeing personal terms. He's at the right age. He's got a lot to prove, and he works very hard ­ we'll be delighted to have someone like that."

Warnock has also indicated that his club would be willing to establish a relationship with Inverness Caledonian Thistle to allow an exchange of players.

The 32-year-old Rangers striker Dado Prso has suggested that persistent knee injuries could force him to retire after this season.

* The former France captain Michel Platini has confirmed he will run for the presidency of Uefa, European football's ruling body. Platini, 51, had signalled his intention to stand 18 months ago and now the president of the French Football Federation, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, has written to Uefa to present him officially as a candidate.

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