King snub to Chelsea with new Spurs deal

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The Independent Football

Ledley King yesterday signed an improved four-year contract at Tottenham Hotspur, ending Chelsea's chances of buying him this summer. The defender's decision to stay at White Hart Lane is not unexpected although negotiations have dragged on for more than six months.

The delay had led to fresh discussions at Chelsea, who first considered a move for King two years ago, over whether they should make a new approach - especially as they face losing either William Gallas or Ricardo Carvalho, who both want to leave the Premiership champions.

Instead, the Spurs captain will stay and receive a substantial salary increase - more than doubling his current basic of £20,000-a-week. His previous deal ran out in 2008 and he has now agreed a new package taking him up to 2010.

"The deal has taken a while to sort out but there was never any question about me staying," King claimed yesterday.

"I now want to continue captaining this club in what is hopefully going to be a very successful period for us."

Nevertheless the 25-year-old is understood to have rejected Spurs' initial offer. King is out for the rest of the season after fracturing a bone in his foot and faces a fitness battle to make England's World Cup squad.

The new deal with King represents a major boost to Spurs who will continue their squad rebuilding, especially if they qualify for the Champions' League.

Yesterday the Borussia Dortmund defender Philipp Degan claimed that Spurs have sent scouts to watch him in recent weeks. The Swiss international, who plays at right-back, said: "There were people here from England. But I have a contract until 2008."

Spurs are understood to be interested in the 19-year-old Lyon winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who has started just four games for the French club this season and is recommended by Spurs' sporting director, Damien Comolli. However, Lyon value the player at £3m and Spurs are believed to want to pay nearer £1m. Spurs are also watching Bayer Leverkusen's Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, who is available for £10.7m, and will be interested in Andrew Johnson if Crystal Palace fail to gain promotion to the Premiership.

Spurs remain in the running for the Chelsea pair of Glen Johnson and Wayne Bridge, the Wigan Athletic defender Pascal Chimbonda, and West Bromwich Albion's Curtis Davies.

Definitely leaving Spurs are Stephen Kelly, Nourredine Naybet and Goran Buncevjevic, who are all out of contract, while the club are expected to listen to offers for Wayne Routledge, now on loan at Portsmouth, and Andy Reid.

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