Arsenal are in talks to buy the midfielder Aliaksandr Hleb from VfB Stuttgart. The Belarus international is expected to provide competition for Fredrik Ljungberg. If he does sign it would bring to an end Arsenal's interest in Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Although talks are under way, the situation is complicated because Stuttgart have yet to appoint a replacement coach following the departure of Matthias Sammer after their failure to qualify for the Champions' League. The Germans may want to wait to see whether a new coach wants to keep Hleb, even though the 24-year-old is keen to move to Highbury.
Another complication could be the transfer fee with Arsenal unlikely to offer more than £8m and the Bundesliga club hoping for a fee nearer £11m or 12m. However, the disparity does not appear insurmountable.
Despite claims to the contrary yesterday, no talks have taken place between Stuttgart and Chelsea for the right-sided midfielder.
If Hleb, who last night appeared for his country in the World Cup qualifier against Scotland, moves he is likely to be joined by two more recruits later this summer as Arsenal's manager Arsène Wenger seeks to boost his squad. His priorities are a goalkeeper and a striker.
Although Hleb is unlikely to move to Stamford Bridge, the likelihood of another midfielder, Scott Parker, leaving continued to rise yesterday with Newcastle United making public their bid of £6m. As with Everton's offer it matches Chelsea's valuation for Parker with Spurs also in the running.
They are trying to do a deal with Chelsea whereby they take Parker in return for Frank Arnesen's move. No talks were held yesterday between the two clubs over Arnesen following allegations that Chelsea made an illegal approach for the sporting director.
Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon is thought to have returned to Milan to try to broker the deals which would take Juan Sebastian Veron move permanently to Internazionale and leave Hernan Crespo with Milan.
As part of the Crespo deal, Chelsea could take the left-back Kakha Kaladze, but both he and their No 1 defensive target, Atletico Bilbao's Asier del Horno, are believed to have made personal demands at which Chelsea have baulked.
Last night Crespo's agent, Fernando Hidalgo, who also represents Veron, claimed that the Argentinian would spend another year on loan at Milan. "The clubs have reached an agreement," Hidalgo said after a meeting with Milan's vice-president Adriano Galliani and Kenyon. "We are talking about another season on loan. This time Milan will pay his wages and he has accepted a substantial salary cut. Crespo's wish to remain with Milan proved decisive. Next week we will resolve everything."
Crespo has been earning £94,000 a week since his £16.8m transfer to Chelsea two years ago. Chelsea last night refused to confirm whether a deal had been struck and it had been thought their manager Jose Mourinho was insisting no more of the club's players would go out on loan.Reuse content