Chelsea make first move for Arsenal target

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Chelsea made a £17 million bid for Barcelona’s in-demand midfielder Yaya Toure after the player’s interest in a move to Arsenal appears to have cooled, according to reports in Spain.

The Blues chairman Bruce Buck today confirmed the club will be bringing in ‘three or four’ players, with Fernando Torres heavily linked.

Deco looks certain to move to Fluminense while Joe Cole is out of contract and there are doubts over Michael Ballack’s future so Carlo Ancelotti seems to be in the market for a central midfielder.

Barca have reportedly rejected the bid but the Stamford Bridge side could still come back with a more lucrative deal as they are the only team to have made a move so far.

Toure has fallen back in the pecking order at Camp Nou but the Catalans are keen to keep him as back up.

Barca’s director of football Txiki Begiristain said: “We’re counting on him for next season but the thing is the players have to accept their position.

“[Sergio] Busquets, Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, [Seydou] Keita are all playing fantastically well. In the end you have to face up to the competition and you may not play as much as you would imagine,” he added.

Despite wanting him to stay put, Begiristain admitted he would be allowed to leave if wanted.

“If they don’t accept it and want to discuss it, we have an obligation. We’ll never keep a player here who doesn’t want to be here,” he explained.

Despite Chelsea looking likely to lose a few centre-midfielders, one who will not be allowed to move, amid interest from Barca’s rivals Real Madrid, is Frank Lampard.

Buck said: “Lampard is a great player, you couldn’t possibly imagine Frank Lampard wearing a shirt other than the Chelsea shirt.”

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