Fulham boss Chris Coleman has warned his Barclays Premiership rivals it would take a “staggering” amount of money to prise Papa Bouba Diop away from Craven Cottage.
Diop joined Fulham for £2million from Lens in July 2004 but his value has shot up following a string of impressive displays which have attracted the attention of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has yet to find a replacement for Patrick Vieira and Diop is considered the ideal successor as the similarities stretch beyond their imposing physical presence.
Diop, nicknamed ‘the Wardrobe’ because of his intimidating 6ft 4ins, 15-stone frame – has added defensive steel to Fulham’s midfield and is equally comfortable on the ball.
Should the 27-year-old Senegal international continue to impress, Coleman will find it increasingly difficult to keep him in south-west London.
But the Fulham manager is no mood to let his prized asset go and revealed it would take a minimum £12million bid to begin negotiations.
“I can’t do anything about the speculation over my players. If a club wants to come in and give us £12million or £15million for Papa Bouba Diop I suppose I can’t tell the chairmen we have to keep him – every player at every club has his price,” he said.
“We don’t want to sell any of our best players but if there was interest shown, that club would have to pay the asking price or the transfer is not going to happen. We want to extend Bouba’s contract and I’m sure we will.
“At the moment, he’s got this season and two more left on his contract. The speculation will come because Bouba is a good player, but it would take a staggering amount of money for us to sell him.”