x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pienaar spurns offer to join Chelsea for possible move to Spurs

Chelsea's continuing frailty in the transfer market has been underlined by a failure to secure Steven Pienaar from Everton.

LONDON // Chelsea's continuing frailty in the transfer market has been underlined by a failure to secure Steven Pienaar as a reinforcement for their faltering Premier League campaign.

The South Africa midfielder has ruled out a January move to the champions after a series of negotiations last week ended with the player unconvinced that Chelsea was the best venue to further his career.

Pienaar, 28, will now join Tottenham Hotspur if the club agree a fee with Everton for an immediate transfer or sign for one of his continental suitors.

As revealed by The National last week, Chelsea attempted to trump Tottenham's informal agreement to recruit Pienaar when his current contract expires this summer.

The club subsequently agreed a £3million (Dh17.1m) transfer fee with Everton, who granted them permission to talk directly with the player. Contract negotiations, however, progressed poorly, with Chelsea understood to have failed to better salary terms offered by Tottenham.

Chelsea's failure to outbid Tottenham - direct competitors for a Champions League place - for Pienaar continues a pattern of financial retrenchment that has damaged the team's on-field performance.

Last summer, more than £20m was cut from the wage bill by the sale or release of five internationals; some of whom Carlo Ancelotti, the manager, wished to retain in his squad.

With the team clearly undermanned in central defence, a bid for Benfica's David Luiz has foundered on a failure to bid more than £16m for the Brazil international - less than half the sum Manchester City reportedly offered six months ago.

Senior figures at Stamford Bridge believe the club have missed out on numerous potential recruits in the past 18 months by making "stupid offers".

Though transfer negotiations have been handled by a revolving cast of club officials - Bruce Buck, the chairman, conducted talks on Pienaar - spending decisions are ultimately taken by Roman Abramovich, whose general approach has been to economise and withdraw control from Ancelotti.