Portsmouth manager Tony Adams has warned Jermain Defoe that he will only be allowed to leave Fratton Park for the right price.
Defoe, 26, revealed his desire to quit the FA Cup holders at a meeting with Adams and executive chairman Peter Storrie last week.
The England forward, who was unavailable for yesterday’s FA Cup third round clash with Bristol City after he phoned in sick, is reportedly being chased by Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Adams would like to keep Defoe, but he knows it will be hard to work with an unhappy player so he will consider a deal — as long as Portsmouth receive a substantial offer.
“Peter Storrie had a meeting with him last Wednesday, which I sat in on, and Jermain expressed a desire to leave,” Adams said on Friday.
“I think Peter is talking to a few clubs about him, but the final decision will be mine and I have a price in mind of what I think he is worth. He is a superb player and a great goalscorer, but I have not yet made up my mind whether or not I am going to sell him,” he said.
“I have to make a call on that, like I had to with Lassana Diarra when Real Madrid came knocking,” Adams said.
“If I wanted to play him against Bristol City I could because he is still a Portsmouth player, but it looks as if his illness has taken that out of my hands,” he said.
In Defoe’s absence, Peter Crouch was set to assume a lone role upfront when Portsmouth began their defense of the FA Cup they won at Wembley against Cardiff in May.
Adams, who was assistant to Harry Redknapp for that victory, would love to return to Wembley this year, but he has enough experience of FA Cup giant-killings not to underestimate Championship outfit Bristol City.
“I have experienced everything in the FA Cup, I have been knocked out at Wrexham, I have been knocked out in every round and I have won it, but in every year I have won it we were very lucky,” Adams said.
“Just look at Brian Clough, who was a fantastic manager, but this was the only trophy he never won. I have won it as a player and a coach so I would love to win as a manager, but it is a very difficult competition and you have to earn the right to lift it. It is also a very special competition, but one which can take you up and bring you down. We are the holders and we do not want to go out in the third round,” he said.
Meanwhile, Storrie insists Portsmouth are under no pressure to cash in on their prize assets despite owner Sacha Gaydamak putting the club up for sale.
“The club is not in any financial difficulty. Yes, we are up for sale, but so are about a third of Premier League clubs,” Storrie said.
“Sacha Gaydamak will only sell to a buyer who is prepared to invest and take the club to the next level,” he said.
“If that doesn’t happen he will continue to support Portsmouth Football Club in the same way that he has for the past three years. Having sold Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid we do not have to sell any more players,” he said.