Fulham manager Chris Coleman is ready to open contract talks with Steed Malbranque as Manchester City prepare a fresh bid for the French midfielder.
City boss Stuart Pearce has £10million to spend when the transfer window reopens on January 1 and is set to rekindle his interest in Malbranque after having a £5million bid for the 25-year-old turned down in August.
Pearce was a spectator during Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Charlton at The Valley last month and will have been encouraged by Malbranque’s statement on Monday that he is in no hurry to sign a new deal.
Fulham’s precarious position in the Barclays Premiership is Malbranque’s biggest concern but Coleman is in no mood to let the player, signed for £5million from Lyon five years ago, leave Craven Cottage.
The manager said: “We held onto Luis Boa Morte over the summer and we want to do the same with Steed. He’s a good player and we want to keep him, it’s as simple as that.
“We’ll open talks with Steed to extend his contract. He’s got this year and next year left, so we still have a little bit of time to do everything.
“But ideally we want to do it sooner rather than later.
“I’ve not heard from Stuart about Steed. There was a lot of hype over the summer about Steed going to Manchester City, but I can’t stop the speculation.
“I saw comments about Steed saying he wasn’t in a hurry to sign a new contract, but sometimes answers are put a certain way in the paper and we have to live with that.
“I’m not worried about Steed – you can see his commitment to the team.
“If he was playing poorly and didn’t appear interested then I’d be worried. But on the contrary, he’s working as hard as he’s ever done.
“He’s playing very well and that’s the main thing. He’s right up there as one of our most influential players. Our midfield is very gifted,” Coleman said.