Chelsea were yesterday given encouragement to bid for the Real Betis's Joaquin by the player himself, though the Spanish club's president, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, claimed he would not sell the winger because of a dispute with city rivals Sevilla over his side's right to wear their traditional green-and-white shirts.
"We planned that Joaquin would play his last game for Betis in green and white against Sevilla at the weekend," Lopera said after yesterday's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid, in which Joaquin scored.
However, the referee made Betis change kit against Sevilla. "We were deprived of that right and he will not now leave until he can wear that shirt again against Sevilla in the league later this season," Lopera said.
Joaquin, who is not cup-tied for European football, said: "I'll go if we are all in agreement Chelsea, who are the side that everyone is talking about, the club and me."
The Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, appointed Arrigo Sacchi as the club's director of football yesterday. Perez also said Real would consider bids for Fernando Morientes. Liverpool and Monaco are reported to be interested.