Although Damien Duff was stalling yesterday on his proposed £17m move to Chelsea, there was no sign of a halt to the feverish transfer activity at Stamford Bridge. The London club made a surprise move last night for Nigel Martyn, offering Leeds United £500,000 for their former England goalkeeper, while Graeme Le Saux could be on his way to Southampton.
Chelsea want Martyn as competition for Carlo Cudicini after Jürgen Macho picked up a serious knee injury. Martyn is keen to go but Leeds, who had hoped to make more money by selling Paul Robinson, are holding out for more. The Yorkshire club are trying to find out if Robinson can still be sold to either Arsenal or Aston Villa for the £3m they need to make on him, but Chelsea want a decision on Martyn by the weekend.
The imminent arrival of Wayne Bridge from Southampton for £7m means that Chelsea are willing to let Le Saux leave. Southampton see him as a ready-made and cheap replacement for Bridge.
Duff, meanwhile, is hoping Manchester United come in with a last-minute bid to sign him. The Blackburn winger met Chelsea officials at Stamford Bridge yesterday, but has told friends that he is going to hold off from signing for as long as he can.
Duff believes United could move for him at the same price and as Barcelona appeared to be edging closer to signing Ronaldinho, that possibility became more likely last night.Duff is settled in Lancashire and has told his Rovers team-mates of his concerns.
United's determination to sign Ronaldinho was tested yesterday as Barcelona raised their offer to £21m in the race to sign the Paris St-Germain midfielder, while the Old Trafford side have yet to agree either a fee or personal terms for their other Brazilian target, Kleberson.
Barcelona's bid for Ronaldinho is "completely superior" to United's, according to the French club's president, Francis Graille. Kleberson looks more likely to come to Old Trafford after he flew in for talks yesterday, but United have yet to fix a fee with his club, Atletico Paranaense, and have not reached agreement on a salary.
Juan Sebastian Veron's possible move from United to Chelsea looks to be failing after the Londoners balked at his wage demands, which are estimated to be £90,000 a week. But it is Ronaldinho's future which will be concerning United most.
Chelsea have also been linked with huge offers for Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, but the Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, said yesterday that neither would be sold, no matter how much money was on offer.
Dein said: "Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira will not be leaving Arsenal Football Club the players have said it and the club has said it. We will not be selling our best players, it's as simple as that."
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