Chelsea are cooling their interest in the Brazilian international Robinho because Real Madrid keep changing their asking price, and are now considering giving Shaun Wright-Phillips another chance to prove himself this season. The England international was told earlier in the summer that he could leave for the right price but a decent showing in pre-season has caused Luiz Felipe Scolari to reconsider.
The Robinho deal is far from a foregone conclusion with Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, frustrated at the way in which Real have encouraged bids from Chelsea only then to change the original asking price. Real have rejected two bids from Chelsea of around £25m and £27m and have subsequently raised the asking price from £30m to include extras dependent on the player's performance over the season.
Robinho became a target for Chelsea because of Scolari's concern over the quality of wide players available to him in midfield, however, it is understood that he has been impressed with Wright-Phillips's two performances in China. Chelsea's major concern is that they cannot sell Wright-Phillips to Portsmouth if they cannot be sure of signing Robinho. The club are working on the basis that they must have replacements for any player departing, which is why Didier Drogba has not been sold this summer.
It means that Wright-Phillips, currently part of the Chelsea squad who play against a Malaysia select XI in Kuala Lumpur today, will have to wait on his potential move to Portsmouth. Having sold Sulley Muntari to Internazionale to finance a deal for the England winger, Portsmouth cannot be sure of signing him this summer. Chelsea hope for some kind of indication from Real this week that a deal is possible for Robinho although they are unwilling to go above £30m.
Jose Mourinho said yesterday that Internazionale, after completing the Muntari deal, had given up all hope of signing Frank Lampard this summer. With no chance of the England midfielder being offered the five-year contract that he has demanded of Chelsea it would now seem inevitable that the 30-year-old will hold out for a big payday next summer and leave for free – as Michael Ballack did at Bayern Munich two years ago.
The Portuguese coach said: "I'm not disappointed by Lampard. The important thing for a player is to do what makes him happy. If his decision is to stay at Chelsea I accept that."
When he arrived in Malaysia yesterday, Kenyon spoke out on the increasing difficulty of holding rebellious players to their contracts and promised that Chelsea would not be forced into selling players beneath their value. Given that he walked out of Manchester United in September 2003 to join Chelsea, Kenyon is not the obvious candidate to give lessons in loyalty, although there is no doubt that philosophy has played its part in the Lampard transfer saga.
Kenyon became the latest representative of a big club to take a stance against the Fifa president Sepp Blatter's recent "slavery" comments, insisting that a player cannot simply engineer a move against his club's will simply by declaring himself dissatisfied – as is the case recently with Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov. Chelsea have recently agreed new long-term deals with Petr Cech and Michael Essien.
Kenyon said "The contract stability issue is really important for football. No one is forced into a contract ... we're expected to [honour contracts] and our players should be, too. Football has got to look at this seriously. You need to be able to think this is not just my team for this season, but these guys are here two or three years. If fans thought next year there would be a new squad of 23 players, the game would also lose something."