The financial implications of falling out of the top flight have been laid bare once again for Birmingham City as manager Alex McLeish admitted defeat in his efforts to sign Celtic defender Bobo Balde.
The Guinea international became the latest central defender to escape the Birmingham City manager, who conceded he could not meet Balde’s wage demands as he looks to build a squad capable of returning to the Premier League at the first attempt.
McLeish has been trying to bolster his defence since January when he thought he had done enough to bring Gary Cahill to St Andrew’s only for the player to decide he want to leave Aston Villa for Bolton Wanderers instead.
And Balde, who has spent the last seven years in Scotland, is another who will have evaded the former Rangers manager even though he is available on a free transfer.
Birmingham were in the bidding with Sunderland’s but cannot meet the player’s terms. “Bobo would be ideal for the team that I am building to get us to the Premier League but he is out of our reach in terms of finance,” McLeish confirmed.
“I am fine with that. I know that we have limitations on how far we’ll go and I wish Bobo all the best in wherever he chooses to go.
“At some stage we have to say no to certain demands. I am not saying he’s greedy, that’s up to Bobo to ask for what he thinks is right for him but it’s just too rich for us.
“That is the situation unless he comes back and says that he would be willing to play for the jersey and take a cut in what he is asking for. But we’ll keep looking to strengthen in that department.”
It is the second time in a week McLeish has confessed he does not have the resources to bring in a proven performer following Saturday’s admission Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher would be too costly.
With Balde out of the picture and Radhi Jaidi struggling for fitness McLeish could begin the season against Sheffield United with just two fit centre-halves.
Jaidi could miss out on Saturday having come off after half an hour against Fulham and complaining of tightness in his back after training this week.
Martin Taylor will partner Liam Ridgewell if the Tunisian is not considered fit.
Three of McLeish’s new signings will feature against United, Kevin Phillips and Marcus Bent should make the match-day squad while Lee Carsley will lead the team out in Damien Johnson’s absence.
But new recruit Quincy Owusu-Abeyie will not be ready because of the prolonged nature of his move from Spartak Moscow and Kemy Agustien is still recuperating from a hernia operation.
McLeish expects the former AZ Alkmaar man to be available in the next week or so.