City have no need to sell Richards, insists Pearce
Stuart Pearce has insisted he will have the final say over whether Micah Richards leaves Manchester City next month.
Richards has been the subject of fevered speculation over the past 24 hours, with many pundits claiming the teenage England star is the man Jose Mourinho will turn to in an effort to cure Chelsea's central defensive problems.
It is only 18 months since Chelsea launched their last raid on the Eastlands outfit, capturing Shaun Wright-Phillips in a £21million deal.
Although that transfer has not really worked out, it does not appear to have put Mourinho off, with a similar sized bid almost certain to ensure Richards heads to Stamford Bridge two months after the 18-year-old became the youngest defender to appear for England in the friendly draw with Holland.
However, as Pearce forcefully pointed out, Chelsea are yet to make a move. If and when they do, they will find City in a much stronger financial position than when the Wright-Phillips deal was concluded.
And that, Pearce argued, allows him a degree of flexibility over whether to let Richards leave.
'If you need to sell, maybe every player does have his price,' said Pearce.
'But Manchester City is nice and set financially in that we are not worrying where the next pound is coming from. We are not on the ropes as maybe we were when Shaun left.
'Admittedly, we don't have a great deal of money to spend on players but if anyone is going to instigate a conversation about needing to sell someone in order to buy a few others, it will be me. It is my responsibility and I will be the one who makes the decisions.'
Pearce is not convinced a move to Chelsea would be in Richards' best interests at this stage of his career.
It is less than 12 months since the Birmingham-born youngster burst onto the Blues first-team scene on a regular basis and he has still only made 36 senior appearances for the club.
'There has been no offer for Micah, all we are talking about is speculation,' said Pearce.
'But I don't think the kid would come to me and say he wants to go. I think he would prefer to stay here. I would if I was 18 and my manager had picked me when I was just a pup.
'I want to keep the better players at this club and drive it forward not backwards.'
To that end, Pearce revealed there had been communication between City and Chelsea, but in the respect of his club wanting to sign someone from the champions; presumably Wright-Phillips.
The former England skipper refused to offer a name, or any indication as to the positive nature, or otherwise, of the talks, although over the weekend he did state information had been received suggesting Wright-Phillips would not be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge on loan.
Someone else apparently not going anywhere at the present time is former skipper Sylvain Distin, whose contract is due to expire in the summer.
Reports that Distin has turned down a final contract offer and will be unloaded next month have been strenuously denied by all parties, with Pearce confirming his belief the Frenchman will eventually commit his future to the Blues, who tackle fellow strugglers West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.
'I honestly believe he will end up signing a new contract,' said Pearce. 'Whether that is tomorrow, next week or in the summer, I don't know.'
Of more pressing concern to Pearce just now is a shortage of bodies in midfield.
With Claudio Reyna and Dietmar Hamann already ruled out by injury, City have suffered a further blow following confirmation Joey Barton must serve a three-match ban after his appeal against the red card he received at Bolton last Saturday was rejected.
It leaves Pearce with little alternative other than to push Richards into a central midfield slot alongside Stephen Ireland and Ousmane Dabo, with Ben Thatcher possibly offered a recall.