By Rob Stewart at Anfield
Bolton manager Owen Coyle reignited the war of words with Arsenal by issuing the Emirates club with a 'put up or shut up' ultimatum over England centre-back Gary Cahill.
In the wake of a his side's 3-1 defeat by Liverpool, the Scot publicly challenged their Premier League rivals to make a formal bid for their prized asset following midweek talks between the two clubs over the 25-year-old.
Cahill - who has also been linked with Tottenham - played at the heart of the Bolton defence despite being at the centre of media attention due to his club’s midweek condemnation of an offer from Arsenal for his services that Coyle had insisted could not even be described as "derisory".
That prompted a swift rebuke from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Coyle went on the offensive again, goading the Gunners boss as the Cahill transfer saga took another twist.
“If whoever it is out there wants to buy Gary Cahill then come and make a firm, proper offer for the lad and we will find out by the close of Wednesday if that is the case,” Coyle told reporters in his post-match press conference at Anfield
“There has certainly been no dialogue since the initial chat that took place on Tuesday night between my chairman Phil Gartside and Dick Law, the senior representative from Arsenal.
“Gary is an outstanding player. He didn’t have a great game today but that can happen to anybody up and down the country and we just have to take it from there.
“I don’t think he performed to his maximum today if we are honest. But that’s only natural for any young player. Their head could be turned by endless transfer speculation and it has been endless since I came to the club 18 months ago. We have had to deal with it every window.”
Coyle denied that he had brought Belgian international Dedryck Boyata, 20, from Manchester City on loan as replacement for Cahill but insisted that he would seek a new centre-half if the England international moves on.
“I am forward-thinking and Boyata has been brought in to bolster our defensive options which have been decimated by injury,” Coyle added.
“I have been chasing him since the end of last season but because of his quality Roberto Mancini wanted to keep his options open. It is coincidence the way it has happened.
“He is an outstanding young player and hopefully we can help him develop like we did Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge. Boyata will have a wonderful career but I wouldn’t be reading anything into it.
If Gary Cahill goes – and it is hypothetical – I would look to buy someone to replace him.”
Coyle lamented his side’s defensive shortcomings on Merseyside which meant that the Trotters have now been beaten in their last ten meetings with Liverpool, for whom Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam scored their first Reds goals either side of a Martin Skrtel goal before Ivan Klasnic struck a late consolation effort for the visitors.
“The first goal from Jordan Henderson was exquisite but then we got back into the game only to shoot ourselves in the foot after half-time,” Coyle said.
“We conceded twice in the space of 30 seconds. It was a comedy of errors.”