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Negotiations between English Premier leagues squads Bolton and Chelsea over the transfer of Tal Ben Haim have moved up a notch, and pundits believe that "he is very close" to joining the Blues.

The Daily Mirror reported yesterday that Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has given up on signing Micah Richards of Manchester City due to the high sum the team is requesting, and intends to sign Ben Haim and Milan Barosh, the Aston Villa striker.

Ben Haim has asked his representatives not to speak to other clubs, while Bolton is also interested in closing a deal with Chelsea. There were reports yesterday that the gap between the two sides narrowed over the past day, even though Bolton's Kevin Nolan, a friend of Ben Haim, said he believes the defender will stay with the club till the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Israeli Idan Tal told the Manchester Evening News yesterday that he is satisfied with Bolton. "But it's hard to improve when you don't get many playing minutes, even though I understand that it's tough for the manager to give us time in league play."

Tal said the fact that he came in as a substitute and was later replaced in his team's match against Aston Villa on Christmas Eve, "was not due to his ability, but was a tactical substitution. I can understand that. I was disappointed, but it was for the good of the club."