Arsène Wenger has become embroiled in a row with Bolton Wanderers over his attempt to sign Gary Cahill, with his managerial counterpart Owen Coyle saying that "the word derisory doesn't even cover" Arsenal's offer for the central defender.
The Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside, also pitched in, when he retweeted and therefore endorsed a derogatory message from a supporter about the reported £6m bid. Cahill, who is out of contract next summer, has a buy-out clause of £17m. Gartside later deleted the retweet from his account.
To Coyle's irritation, Wenger has tracked Cahill throughout the summer but has failed to act decisively. Coyle said after Bolton's win at QPR on the opening weekend of the season that there had been "notes of inquiry [for Cahill] but no firm offer" and now that the Arsenal manager has made a move, it has only served to rile Coyle further.
"There was a conversation between Phil Gartside and a representative of Arsenal," Coyle said. "I'm only passing this on as a third party but the word derisory doesn't even cover it. When I make an offer for a player, I like to think in the right ballpark but this wasn't even close. I can assure anybody that Gary will not be leaving this football club for a bargain price."
Arsenal have endured a torrid transfer window, losing Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri against their wishes and, the forward Gervinho apart, failing so far to add established players. The club's approach to the market has been questioned, in terms of their speed of movement and the pitch of some of their offers.
Wenger, though, who announced that he also wanted a new striker because Nicklas Bendtner could not be included in his plans, hit back at Bolton and effectively branded them as liars. He refused to disclose the amount of Arsenal's bid for Cahill but he insisted that £6m was "completely wrong and nothing to do with how much we rate the player."
Wenger said that Gartside "can endorse what he wants", in relation to the tweet. "You can believe Gartside or you can believe me," he added, ahead of Sunday's visit to Manchester United. "I just tell you that it's not right. It's not the truth and if Gartside can say that I am lying, I am ready to confront him.
"If you ask 'Do I want to buy your house?' and you are not happy with the price, you say 'No' and that is it. Why should you feel insulted? I don't understand that. Why should you make offers that people are not insulted by? If the player is not for sale, they can keep him. If he is for sale, they can only accept the price they want. I don't understand the problem."
It was put to Wenger that he had been unhappy at Barcelona's opening offers for Fábregas this summer. "As long as we were not happy, we did not sell the player," he replied. "But we have never come out to say we are insulted. It is more the way they have turned the head of the players that can sometimes be disturbing."
Wenger has an interest in the Everton midfielders Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini, together with the centre-half Phil Jagielka, but if the Merseyside club were to sell any of them, it would be for fees of around £20m. Although Wenger has an offer of £22m on the table for the Rennes holding midfielder Yann M'Vila, he has generally been reluctant to pay inflated prices.
Wenger made his audience laugh when he was asked what was wrong with Bendtner, who has an ankle injury. "I don't really know," he replied, but he confirmed that he expected the Dane to leave.
"We look for one more striker because we know he will leave and we will be short. Marouane Chamakh will go away during the African Nations Cup and we don't have a work permit for Joel Campbell, and we are not in a position where we can be sure that we will get it."
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