Chelsea are considering raising their offer for the midfielder Emerson after Roma refused a £17.5m offer for the Brazil captain. Chelsea have also been linked with a £15m offer for Samuel Eto'o, the Real Mallorca striker.
The Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, needs an influential midfielder for his new-look team and has also been tracking Manchester United's Juan Sebastian Veron. A week after setting a club record transfer fee of £17m for Damien Duff, Chelsea would have to break new ground again to make Emerson their fifth major summer signing. Roma's sporting director, Franco Baldini, confirmed the Blues had failed with their latest offer, but seemed to leave the door ajar for another approach.
"We have refused a €25m [£17.5m] offer from Chelsea," he said. "The player wants to stay at Roma, but it is the club who will decide the player's future. Chelsea's bid so far is the most significant offer."
Roma also complained that Chelsea had previously made an illegal approach direct to Emerson. Baldini said: "The situation is simple. Chelsea offered Roma €27m [£19m] for Emerson and we answered that he is untouchable. At that point, Chelsea went straight to Emerson with an offer outside the market - a contract for six years and €30m [£21m]. You can understand the turbulent frame of mind the player is now in. We have told him we consider him irreplaceable and we want to renew his contract and offer him more money.
"He answered that Chelsea, too, clearly have great belief in his ability given their offer. I realise he has seen a train laden with gold going past his door, but he will just have to do the right thing."
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, remains unperturbed by Chelsea's new-found riches, maintaining he is happy for his club to be considered title underdogs behind Manchester United. Arsenal's lack of summer transfer activity - they have invested just £1.5m on the goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann - has seen them fall well behind United in the odds to win the Premiership, while Chelsea are now clear third favourites.
But Wenger insisted the keys to his team's chances would be consistency and stability, with his efforts focused on ensuring Patrick Vieira commits his future to the club.
He said: "Overall, I think our team is getting better as it's a young squad. The newspapers have already removed us from being favourites for the title but I don't mind that. What's important is what's happening on the pitch and I know this team has a great potential.
"What will the new resources do to Chelsea? I don't think it is a concern of ours, because we do not want to sell our good players to anyone. We want to maintain the stability here that we have developed in recent years. To build a great team is not all about money. First you have to create the spirit and togetherness within a squad and that is not easy."