Lee Clark reveals why contact with former Chelsea star broke down

Florent Malouda

Lee Clark has laid out what exactly happened with Birmingham’s pursuit of Florent Malouda and Hatem Ben Arfa.

The former Chelsea and France star took to Twitter to deny that Birmingham had made an official approach for his services, claiming that “I don’t know any Lee Clark.”

However, the Blues boss has come out to reveal that a package was put together and offered to the player - upon his agent’s request. Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Clark has cleared the air regarding the deal, and it appears as if Malouda’s agent is the person responsible for the player’s ridiculing of the team.

The 41-year old said: “A member of my staff, Malcolm Crosby, was contacted by the player’s agent. We were asked if we were interested.

"A player of his ability, certainly, and we discussed it amongst ourselves, then with the board and put together a package for him.

“For us, in the position we are in, it was a very, very good package too.

“The agent came back to us and said it fell short and it was not quite what the player was looking for. We were told he wanted more.”

However, Malouda’s agent has since confessed that he failed to tell the player about the approach, despite contacting the Championship club on his client’s behalf.

Clark continued: “Myself, Panos Pavlakis and Malcolm were ready to meet the player and his representative in London if we could get a financial agreement in place.

“Never once has it been said by myself, suggested or written that I spoke to the player. You don’t do that until you know you have common ground in terms of the wages.

“So why there has been this reaction, I don’t know. There should be no issue in what myself and the club were trying to do here, and that was sign a player we believed could have helped us.”

Clark had come under criticism for his reported approach to the former Chelsea man, with many claiming that the story was fake. However, along with his desire to straighten out the facts, Clark also revealed that a move for Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa was considered - although the forward ultimately joined Hull City on deadline day.

“I contacted Steve Stone to find out about his [Ben Arfa’s] availability.

“I then spoke to Lee Charnley and asked about Ben Arfa to see if we could do anything.

“They came back to say that he wanted to stay in the Premier League but the player appreciated our interest and thanked us for it.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get that one done either.

“But if you don’t ask these questions then you are never going to know.”

Both players failed to make the switch to St Andrew’s during the summer, but fans will be grateful to know that the club have the ambition to sign players who could make an impact, and return them to the Premier League.

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