Whelan plays hardball over Ali

Ali Al Habsi
Ali Al Habsi

DAVE Whelan insists Wigan Athletic will not be backed into a corner by Bolton Wanderers over Ali Al Habsi.

The Oman No.1 remains Roberto Martinez’s top transfer target after a superb season-long loan, although the two clubs have so far failed to agree on a fee.

Wanderers are understood to be holding out for £4million, whereas Latics have refused to go past £3million, leaving the player – who is still away on holiday – in limbo.

“We’ve made our offer, and we’re sitting on the fence at the moment,” Whelan told the Evening Post.

“They’re trying to get more money out of us, but we’ve told them straight: We’re not paying any more money.

“We saw our first bid turned down, which we thought we might, and our second offer remains on the table.

“It’s our fullest and final offer.

“The offer is what we were quoted for last summer – £3million.

“They’re trying to get add-ons factored in, which we’re trying to resist.

“We’ve done what we can now. It’s just a case of ‘wait and see’.”

Al Habsi has already stated he is not prepared to play second fiddle any more after experiencing life as a first choice with Latics.

With fan favourite Jussi Jaaskelainen about to sign a new deal at Bolton, Al Habsi’s days there look numbered.

All three parties want the deal to happen, so it seems inconceivable it will fall through at this late stage.

The question now is who will blink first – and Whelan is adamant it won’t be Latics.

“They’re just about to sign a contract extension with their other goalkeeper, so they’ll definitely be selling Ali,” he added.

“We want him, and the lad definitely wants to come to Wigan, so we’ll see.

“We’ll leave it for another week or so, but then we’ll have to start to look elsewhere. We can’t wait forever.”

However, Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is equally adamant Al Habsi will not be allowed to leave ‘on the cheap’.

“We haven’t shifted one iota, so Wigan have known since the very start where they need to get to,” the Scot said.

“If they are edging closer, then they are only doing that because they have known what they have to do from the outset.

“If they get to a place where we’re all happy then there might be some business done. Until they do that, there’s nothing to discuss.”