The Blackburn Rovers captain Christopher Samba is determined to leave Ewood Park, despite the club telling him that they believe their bankers will recoup cash paid out for him and that they will not let him go.
Samba put in a transfer request yesterday after he was called for a meeting by the club's sporting director Simon Hunt and Indian board member Vineeth Rao, who feared he may be about to withdraw his goodwill and refuse to play. The 27-year-old is the club's most saleable asset and though Rovers had placed an £18m valuation which put him out of reach for prospective buyers, they may now be forced to consider whether a £12m sale would make sense for a player who clearly does not want to be at Ewood. Even that price may be prohibitive to QPR or Tottenham, who are both interested. The defender favours a move to Paris St-Germain, since the French capital is his family's base and is well known to him.
Samba appears to be anxious that Blackburn fans will feel he has been disloyal to the club, though that sentiment is set against the indignation he harbours about commitments made to him last summer regarding the club's future direction. Samba was assured that Rovers' Indian owners, Venky's, were ambitious and wanted to make it a buying club and stayed on that basis. He claims that promises have not materialised.
The Rovers management have known for weeks that they may not have the proceeds of sales to reinvest and manager Steve Kean was told as much when called to a meeting at which he hoped to discuss funds last month. Rovers have not paid Barclays the £10m the bank wanted by 31 December and it had seemed inevitable when that situation came to light that a sell-off of some players might be required. The club's need of money and a knowledge that they will be severely weakened without him are contributing to the high price they have put on him.
In a statement released by his management company, Samba said: "I have today officially requested a transfer from Blackburn Rovers Football Club. I have personally informed the owners, manager and executives at the club that I want to leave in this transfer window. In my five years at Blackburn Rovers Football Club I have always given 100 per cent in every game I have played. I have had several opportunities to leave but I have always stayed. I have decided now is the right time for me to pursue a new challenge and I have asked the club to respect my decision and allow me to leave. I thank the fans for their support and I hope they feel I have served them and their club well."