Manchester City will turn their attentions to a £12m bid for the Arsenal defender Kolo Touré, after John Terry declared yesterday that he has decided against joining them.
City were still maintaining hopes at the weekend that the silence from the Chelsea camp regarding the England captain's future left the door open for them. But the improved deal Chelsea have put Terry's way has proved decisive. City have heard what the defender has to say and there was no sense from the club last night that one last wage offer would be made to tempt him.
The Chelsea captain declared, through his club's website, that it was "never a possibility" he would leave Chelsea but confirmed he was pushing for the club to sign new players. "There has been a lot of speculation about my future and I want to clear this up once and for all. I am totally committed to Chelsea and always have been," Terry said. "Chelsea have also made it clear to me consistently there was never any intention to accept any kind of offer."
City had been prepared to make another improved salary offer for Terry had they received a signal that it would have persuaded him to join. The decision on whether they might do so would have been put into manager Mark Hughes' hands by City's executive chairman, Garry Cook.
Yesterday's announcement was not as expected by City as by some in the football world. The number of friends Terry has at City – Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips and above all goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock, with whom he has holidayed this summer – have given the club no reason to feel pessimism. But in the final reckoning, Terry's conversation in the US last week with Roman Abramovich has proved decisive. Chelsea are understood to be prepared to offer Terry a new deal, despite him having three years to run on the current contract. Although there will be a pay increase for Terry, making him the club's highest earning player again, Chelsea will go nowhere near matching the near £200,000-a-week City were offering. They had bid £30m for the 28-year-old.
The decision still leaves City pursuing two new central defenders. Cook was in three hours of talks with Arsenal which led to the purchase of Emmanuel Adebayor and the Gunners' manager, Arsène Wenger, is well aware of City's interests and has not disabused them of the idea that they might be in business. Touré indicated some interest in joining City in January but cooled on the idea after reflection. The presence at Eastlands of his friend and former team-mate Adebayor might help. A City bid is likely to be in the region of £12m.
There are still serious hopes at City that Joleon Lescott will also push Everton for permission to seek discussions with the club, who would be prepared to up their initial £15m bid to nearer £20m. It was always their aim to sign two out of the triumvirate of Terry, Lescott and Touré, with West Ham's Matthew Upson lower down their priority list.
Despite Terry's statement, which confirmed Chelsea's confidence that he would not leave, there is no doubt that he was tempted by City's offer and that the defender does have concerns about his present club's ambitions. He is still pushing for a marquee signing having named David Villa and Franck Ribéry as the type of players Chelsea should be signing.
Hughes said on Saturday evening: "We are in the market for good players who we think can improve us. A lot of the good players out there are at clubs who don't have to do business with us. It's a question of seeing what's available. If the players are those who won't improve us to any great extent then we go with what we have."
Hughes is not seeking midfielders but his need for defenders was underlined when he lost three to injury in Saturday's Vodacom Challenge defeat to Kaizer Chiefs here. Richard Dunne limped off carrying a knee injury sustained in the end of season international, Nedum Onuoha – whom City want to keep despite talk of a cash-player swap for Lescott – needed nine stitches to a gash to the head and youngster Javan Vidal gashed his shin.Reuse content