Steve Kean, the Blackburn Rovers manager, has told Queen's Park Rangers that his club are prepared to let captain Christopher Samba sit in the stands, rather than sell him.
Kean's private comments came in the last month and will have done little to enhance a relationship which has become so difficult that the defender yesterday had to track the manager down in the coaches' office at Rovers' Brockhall training centre and demand a meeting – hours before the club officially declared his transfer request had been turned down.
The Congolese defender had arrived with friends at Brockhall for a light training session yesterday, with no formal training scheduled. He felt that Kean was avoiding him, by delaying the discussion he had asked for, and then went to seek the manager out.
When the two men finally spoke, Samba is understood to have explained that he felt the club had broken a promise by failing to invest for a push for a Europa League place – as he had been told they would last summer. But Rovers fear that any money they recoup from their most saleable asset will go straight to paying off a £10m bank debt, and that appears to have influenced their resolve to refuse the transfer request he tabled on Monday.
Even if the demand had been granted, neither QPR nor Tottenham would go near the £18m Rovers have been quoting. A compromise £12m figure is possible if Samba digs his heels in, though even that may be prohibitive.
Samba's preference is to leave for Paris Saint-Germain. He has close family in the city and often returns there during free periods. But the French side already have five centre-halves in their squad and he is not on new coach Carlo Ancelotti's list. There is no evidence that Samba's decision to place a transfer request has created any friction with his team-mates at the club.
Rovers declared through their website yesterday that the transfer request had been turned down. "Blackburn reiterate that Samba is not for sale," the club said. "The player signed a new contract with the club less than a year ago which runs to June 2015."
Samba said: "In my five years at Blackburn I have always given 100 per cent. I have had several opportunities to leave but I have always stayed."