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Only a 'ridiculous' offer will tempt Boro into selling Leadbitter
MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray insists Grant Leadbitter is not for sale and has reassured supporters he isn't under any pressure to sell in order to make new signings.
Yesterday brought renewed speculation over Leadbitter's future after Nottingham Forest tabled a fresh bid for the midfielder, believed to be in the region of £2m.
Forest boss Billy Davies is understood to have earmarked the former Sunderland man as one of his top targets ahead of the transfer deadline on Monday night, but Boro are standing firm having already knocked back two approaches from the East Midlands club earlier in the summer.
There was also talk of interest from the Premier League yesterday with Crystal Palace monitoring the situation, but The Northern Echo understands Forest are the only club to have made a formal approach for Leadbitter at this stage.
Whether Forest return with an improved offer remains to be seen, but Mowbray insists it wouldn't be in the club's best interests to sell Leadbitter to their Championship rivals unless they offered 'ridiculous' money.
"Our message is loud and clear to the supporters: Grant Leadbitter is not going anywhere," Mowbray said.
"We're here to try and build a team not dismantle it and let our best players go to rivals. I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen.
"I don't think that's going to be the case where we have to sell to buy new players. Any inquiries we've had for Grant Leadbitter have been a million miles away from where we value him so I don't think that's going to happen.
"Every player is for sale. Cristiano Ronaldo went for £80m, Gareth Bale is going to £86m, but I'd have to say any inquires have been a long way off what we would consider.
"I think some people think that we are short on funds, need the money or whatever. Maybe for the last few years we have been addressing financial issues and yet I think from this point we don't have to concern ourselves with that.
"We can move forward and I think any bids for Grant Leadbitter will be told firmly where to go. Unless it was Real Madrid for £86m - that's not being too flippant. Sometimes a bid, a club, a player wants to do this and that and you have to ask are you holding him back? I don't think that's the case with Nottingham Forest.
"I've had no conversations with Billy Davies. What I would say is when all this was first rumoured I had a conversation with my owner and he is very much of the same opinion as me.
"We are trying to build a team not dismantle one so Grant Leadbitter, whatever the price, wasn't going to be sold. If the number was ridiculous and we thought we could reinvest the money somewhere else then every player has their price but it's not even in our thinking to sell the players we want to keep. I've spoken to Grant and he's fine."
Mowbray is still trying to strengthen his own squad, but until now attempts have failed to come off. South African striker Tokelo Rantie joined Bournemouth on Wednesday and the Boro boss admits he was a player in his thinking, but revealed the Teesside club weren't going to be held to ransom for a player.
He said: "I travelled to Malmo to watch him live. We saw him a couple of times. I think we all have a set value on players. We did have discussions with their club and at the time they didn't want to sell. If they've (Bournemouth) got to a number that ultimately tempted them to sell then we will see him in three-and-a-half weeks time at the Riverside and only time will tell whether it's money well spent."
Mowbray admits the likelihood of any new players arriving before tomorrow's visit of Sheffield Wednesday is slim, but he has reassured supporters that should the club fail to buy before the window closes, there will be another opportunity to strengthen in the loan market.
Aston Villa's Stephen Ireland and Norwich City's Daniel Ayala have both been mentioned and the Boro boss admits the pair are players he believes could help his team.
He said: "There are hundreds of players available, some big Premier League players and yet if they don't fit what we try to build then we're not going to bring them in.
"Someone else might bring them in and some of our fans might ask why we didn't go for him?
"We're looking for players that will help our team. The ones you mentioned (Ireland and Ayala) I think they fall into that category, but I don't know where they are or how things are progressing. Let's wait and see what the next few days and weeks bring."