Cagliari president Massimo Cellino has admitted he does not have the financial muscle to compete with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for Gianfranco Zola.
Zola had a fantastic season at Cagliari last term and led the Sardinian club to promotion to Serie A. Cellino offered Zola a package which would have made him the highest paid player at the club, but he rejected the proposal.
Zola has been linked with a return to Chelsea in an ambassadorial role and Cellino has stressed he cannot compete with Abramovich. "We made him a huge economical offer," said Cellino. "The highest of the whole team. "I thought it would be a surprise to the player, but he refused it. "I know that this is small change for Abramovich. But I'm Massimo Cellino and I'm not rich like the Russian tycoon."
Despite being disappointed at Zola's exit, Cellino claims he still holds the former Italian international in the highest esteem. "My affection and esteem for Gianfranco have not changed," he said. "We tried everything we could to keep him."