Chelsea are hopeful of completing the deal for Bolton Wanderers' Gary Cahill today following delays over the buying club's insistence that new financial fair play regulations (FFP) mean they are prepared to pay him a relatively low – by their standards – £50,000 a week.
It has meant a longer than usual negotiation with Cahill and his agent, John Seasman, who had been taken aback by Chelsea's original offer and Andre Villas-Boas's announcement at the end of last month that the two parties were "miles apart". The club agreed a fee of around £6m with Bolton long ago but wages have taken much longer.
Chelsea regard their £50,000-a-week opening offer as the way forward. With the pressure of complying with FFP, introduced from last summer, the club told Cahill that the days of them handing out contracts in the £90,000-plus-a-week category to anything other than the biggest stars are over.
In the past, it has been the negotiations with the selling club that have proved the sticking point in Chelsea transfer sagas – such as the protracted negotiations with Lyons for Michael Essien and later Florent Malouda – but with Cahill it has been the issue of his wages.
Chelsea are not prepared to return to the days when big contracts were a matter of course even for those players who were not considered integral to the team. The club went through a big clear-out of high earners when they released the likes of Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Deco and Joe Cole.
Recent additions to the squad, such as Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata, have been placed on a new, more modest pay scale, with the recognition that the club have to make inroads into the huge wage bill, £172m in the last annual accounts. Frank Lampard and John Terry – who earn around £150,000 a week – are both on deals signed in the days when the club were more willing to pay big money to keep their biggest names.
However, there is no prospect of either of those players being offered new deals at comparative rates when their current contracts expire – Lampard's in the summer of next year and Terry's a year later in 2014. The club are still battling against a perception within the game that they will hand out the kind of lucrative contracts they once did. They have also found their supremacy in the market for academy players challenged by Manchester City.
Chelsea have allowed the French winger Gaël Kakuta to go on loan at French Ligue 1 club Dijon. He has had two loan spells in the Premier League already, first with Fulham and then with Bolton, with whom he spent the first half of the season.
Daniel Sturridge is back in training after an injury that has kept him out of Chelsea's last two games against Wolves and Portsmouth. Terry said that he would be fit for Saturday's game against Sunderland, despite having hurt his knee in a collision with a goalpost.