Birmingham City have turned their attention to Jiri Jarosik, the Chelsea midfield player, after being told by the Premiership champions that Geremi is not for sale.
Birmingham are short in the centre of the pitch after Medhi Nafti, the Tunisia international, sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for most of the season.
Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, initially approached Chelsea about signing Geremi but was instead offered Jarosik. Bruce also failed in a bid to sign Alexei Smertin from Chelsea a month ago.
Chelsea have a midfield player too many after last night signing Michael Essien from Olympique Lyon for £26 million.
Jarosik, aged 27, is a Czech Republic international who has the ability to dictate the pace of matches. At 6ft 4in, he is a player who can fit into Bruce's all-action style of play.
Birmingham have already signed Mario Melchiot, Mikael Forssell and Jesper Gronkjaer from Chelsea and have struck up a close working relationship with the Premiership champions.
Jarosik appears to be surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, having made only three Premiership starts for Chelsea last season and having been omitted from their 16-man squad for the match away to Wigan Athletic two days ago.
Formerly of Sparta Prague, Jarosik joined CSKA Moscow for £3 million at the start of 2003. He joined Chelsea on loan a year later and then made the move permanent. However, given the strength of the Chelsea squad, he has failed to establish himself at Stamford Bridge.
Bruce wants a solid midfield player to compete alongside Nicky Butt. Muzzy Izzet was signed to fulfil a role in the centre of the pitch but he suffered a serious knee injury last season and only made the substitutes' bench away to Fulham on Saturday.
Bruce opted to play Stephen Clemence alongside Butt and, while Birmingham were short of their best, this midfield pairing did much to stop Fulham from playing. The ensuing goalless draw was inevitable.
However, the Birmingham manager wants a midfield so strong that it will enable his wingers, Jermaine Pennant and eventually David Dunn, to flourish and provide the ammunition for Emile Heskey and Mikael Forssell up front.
Bruce could sign Jarosik as early as today, having said that Birmingham are "close" to adding to their squad. Bruce would not confirm that Jarosik is the player in question or that he failed in a bid to sign Geremi.
However, Birmingham have made it clear that they are happy to take a close look at any Chelsea players who might become disillusioned with playing relatively few matches.
And Bruce has not restricted his spending to just one new player. He might be tempted to sign a centre-back before the transfer window closes on August 31.
One thing he does not need is a new striker, now that Clinton Morrison has decided to stay at St Andrew's and fight for a first-team place.
Morrison, the Republic of Ireland international, is frustrated at being fourth-choice striker but, despite being linked with a move to Southampton and Sheffield United, has become determined to prove his worth to Bruce.
But Morrison faces a difficult fight. Heskey, Forssell and Walter Pandiani are ahead of him in the queue.