• City have sounded out Chelsea's 28-year-old captain
• Daniel Sturridge hopes City become 'big club' one day
Carlo Ancelotti met John Terry for the first time yesterday and Chelsea's manager suggested it was business as usual as he attempted to brush off the link between his captain and Manchester City and outline his blueprint for the season.
But Chelsea's insistence that Terry had been welcomed back for pre-season training only by Ancelotti and not by any member of the board – to discuss his future – was taken as an encouraging sign at Eastlands, where City executives remain convinced that Terry has his price.
Chelsea's stance is relaxed on an issue that flared once again towards the end of last week, when City made a bid of around £30m for the England captain. As with their offer for him in January, it was rejected out of hand and, in a strongly worded statement, Chelsea said that Terry is not for sale.
Ancelotti and Peter Kenyon, Chelsea's chief executive, reinforced that message on Monday, with both also saying that Terry had told them that he wants to stay, yet City do not believe it and until they hear categorically from either Terry or his agent that he has no interest in a move, they will not lose hope.
City are ready to increase their bid and willing to double Terry's weekly wage of £135,000 to make him the highest paid player in world football. They feel that his head has been turned. Chelsea, meanwhile, continue to seek a marquee signing. Terry has stated that it is vital they close such a deal.
City did not put forward last week's bid for Terry without first sounding out people close to him, and they continue to read encouragement into his refusal thus far to kill the story with a public statement. Chelsea, meanwhile, say that there is no need for such a move, given Terry's allegiance in the past.
Ancelotti, the former Milan manager, spoke to Terry on the telephone last month, after he had agreed to move to Stamford Bridge. Apparently, the Italian got Terry's number from David Beckham, who played for him at Milan. Then, as yesterday, Ancelotti spoke to Terry about football matters as he maintains that financial matters are not his domain.
The Italian has remarked that leading players such as Kaka, who turned down City in January and has since moved from Milan to Real Madrid, need to be playing at Champions League-qualified clubs. City cannot yet offer that, or even a place in the new Europa League.
They were reminded of this yesterday by Daniel Sturridge, the striker who ran down his contract at Eastlands and completed a transfer to Chelsea. City are entitled to compensation for the 19-year-old and the fee is to be determined by tribunal, with City demanding £10m and Chelsea prepared to offer somewhat less. A compromise of £5m is expected. "My main motivation was to play in the Champions League," said Sturridge.
"I am very ambitious, I want to push myself to the highest level and play with some of the best players in the world. I am only motivated by doing things in the game, by winning trophies and becoming a great player in football history. Chelsea have been winning trophies for years. The likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka will push me on to become a better player.
"I was at Manchester City since I was 13 and it would have been difficult for anybody to leave a club that they have loved for so long. I wish Manchester City all the best for the future and I hope that they become a big club."
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