Lazio President Claudio Lotito has confirmed that the club have received multiple offers for Senegalese forward Keita Balde this summer, but the player is only interested in moving to Juventus.
Lotito listed three clubs who have all tabled proposals ranging from €30m upwards, and is disappointed with Juventus' €15m offer.
“First things first, it’s not true that we have not proposed a new contract to Keita,” he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport, as quoted by fan site JuveFC.
“We met twice with his agent Roberto Calenda and Keita’s brother was present too. We offered him the same wages as Miroslav Klose, the highest-paid player under my tenure. The response was that the lad wanted to leave Lazio.
“There were three formal offers, all of them I can prove with documentation. Milan would’ve given us €35m, West Ham €32m and Napoli €30m.
“Keita and his agent replied they were not interested in any of the three, that the destination they wanted was Juventus. The player confirmed it to me in the pre-season training camp.
“The Bianconeri consider €15m to be a suitable offer, but I cannot sell a player for half of the lowest other offer I received. If I got proposals worth €30m, why should I sell him for half that?
The President has been left let down with his player's recent attitude, and is considering taking legal action against him. However, he is leaving Balde's playing time up to the manager.
Lotito: "Keita? Milan offered €35m, West Ham €32m, Napoli €30m but Balde & his agent want Juventus, who are offering €15m." GdS— Khaled Al Nouss (@khaledalnouss1) August 19, 2017
He added: “You tell me his contract is running down and I risk losing him for nothing if I don’t accept? Well I say that is extortion and practically qualifies as a crime.
“We will evaluate taking legal action. A contract must be respected and not just if a player doesn’t get game time. It’s also false to say that he was dropped because of a club diktat, as it was purely Simone Inzaghi’s choice.
“They tell me that in the locker room the player confessed he didn’t feel up to playing, then seemed below par in the training session. What a coincidence, he was going to play against Juve.
“Inzaghi will decide whether to use Keita or not this season. As for his contract running down, zero patience. It is more important to respect the rules.”