Chelsea remain locked in dialogue with Lyon despite claims that the deal to take Michael Essien to Stamford Bridge has broken down.
Lyon’s outspoken chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has said he will not enter into any further discussions with the Barclays Premiership champions over the possible transfer of the Ghana midfielder.
But PA Sport understands that talks between the two clubs have not stopped and that Chelsea are confident a deal can be completed before the start of the new Premiership campaign this weekend.
Chelsea’s latest bid, thought to be somewhere closer to the £31m (€44.8m) demanded by the French champions, remains on the table despite the blustering from Aulas.
Aulas maintains he has always wanted to keep Essien at the club and says that a meeting scheduled for him and Chelsea’ billionaire owner Roman Abramovich was cancelled.
But Chelsea are adamant Abramovich was never destined to enter into the battle to buy Essien with chief executive Peter Kenyon in full control of proceedings.
Lyon’s latest move in the long-running transfer saga has been to make noises about handing the player a new contract to keep him at the club.
But with Essien having already declared his desire to move to Stamford Bridge, it is difficult to see how – apart from the incentive of a massive pay hike - that Lyon can hope to succeed in persuading him to remain with them.
Aulas said: “England has the Olympics but Chelsea will not get Michael Essien. Michael is, and will remain, a Lyon player.
“We are going to make concrete the contract proposition made and accepted by his agent, which is very rewarding for the player because it comprises not only a major pay rise, but also an extension of his contract until 2009.
“I will invite Michael and his agent to come and see me in St Tropez. This business (with Chelsea) is finished and there will be no meeting on Tuesday.”
However, Chelsea remain convinced they will land their man and are unconcerned by the increasingly unreliable rhetoric from Aulas who also dreams of the day that Essien scores the winner for Lyon against Chelsea in the final of the Champions League.
He added: “Since everything will quickly return to normal, and that Michael is a great player and a good boy, I only see good things ahead for him and for Lyon.
“In my dream, I see him scoring a header in the Champions League final at the Stade de France against Chelsea, and I see him winning the Ballon d’Or.”
While Kenyon continues to concentrate on thrashing out a deal to bring Essien to England, the club hope to successfully conclude another saga tomorrow.
The FA Premier League’s three-man panel, comprising of one QC and two Football Association councillors, will sit to hear Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho’s appeal against his fine for his involvement in the Ashley Cole tapping-up scandal.
The panel will also preside over Cole’s appeal against his hefty fine although neither is expected to appear at the Marble Arch venue in London.
The panel will hear the legal arguments but not the case in full and Chelsea are expected to be represented by lawyer Bruce Buck.
The Blues have steadfastly insisted that Mourinho should not have been fined as no other manager involved in such cases has been singled out for punishment in such a fashion.
Chelsea maintain that as Mourinho is employed by them, it is the club should be punished for his actions not the individual and that will form the mainstay of their appeal.
Cole is determined to concentrate on football rather than the hearing and losing 2-1 to Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday has, he says, only made them thirsty for revenge when the two sides meet again in the Premiership in two weeks’ time.
Cole said: “I think some people might say that the Community Shield matters but we won it last season and we lost the league. So we’re not going to think too deeply about it.
“In two weeks it’s the league. Of course, it’s going to make us want to beat them more. We’ll give it our best and hopefully that will do.”