Tottenham launch £14m Baptista bid

Arsenal have been unable to seal the signing of Baptista, 23, despite meeting with Seville officials last week and have encountered a reluctance from the player himself who favours a move to Barcelona at the end of next season. However, Tottenham's greater financial resources could undermine Arsène Wenger as he prepares for the difficult task of replacing the influence of Vieira in his midfield.

The Seville president, Jose Maria Del Nido, is eager to sell the player this summer to realise his rising transfer value after two seasons in which Baptista has scored 48 goals from midfield. His disclosure of the bid from Tottenham, who - up until yesterday - had only inquired about the player, is a deliberate move to force the transfer through.

Del Nido said: "The most important offer that we have received is that of Tottenham, of more than €20m [£13.8m]. It's going to be difficult for him to leave. Time is passing by and there are fewer days in order for clubs to make higher offers than what we have received so far."

Ashley Cole completed the most remarkable u-turn in recent football history yesterday when he signed a one-year extension to the two years remaining on his contract and secured the wage increase that had been the motivation for his infamous meeting with Jose Mourinho and Chelsea's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, on 27 January.

Although Arsenal's announcement of the deal was scarce on detail and suitably muted in terms of mutual appreciation between club and player, it would now appear that Cole's £100,000 fine from the Premier League independent commission was money well spent. He has secured vastly better terms over the course of three years and should endure no problems recouping that money in salary increases with a deal understood to be worth £70,000 a week.

In a brief statement, Arsenal said: "Everyone at Arsenal is looking forward to Ashley being an integral part of the club's challenge for honours in the forthcoming seasons." However, there are no plans yet for a public reconciliation between the player and the vice-chairman, David Dein, who clashed over the club's determination to report Chelsea to the Premier League over the tapping-up scandal.

Cole refused to acknowledge Dein on 1 June when the three-man commission gave their verdict and in a newspaper interview he accused the vice-chairman of having "hung me out to dry". He also said that Wenger had not given him the support he felt he deserved over the affair.

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