Lyon have turned down a new offer from Chelsea for midfielder Michael Essien.
MICHAEL ESSIEN FACTFILE
Place of birth Accra, Ghana
Position: Right-footed midfielder
Clubs: Bastia (2000-2003), Lyon (2003- )
The French champions are believed to have rejected a bid in excess of £21m, and as well as holding out for £32m Lyon also want a player in exchange.
However, a deal could be close after president Jean-Michel Aulas agreed to meet Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
"Even if the distance between what Lyon would like and Chelsea are offering has diminished, the two parties are not in agreement," said a Lyon statement.
Essien has voiced his desire to move to Stamford Bridge, and said he is "convinced" it will happen, but so far the clubs have been unable to agree a fee for the 22-year-old Ghanaian.
The Lyon statement said that, although no meeting had been planned on Thursday, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon had "let it be known that he was present at the Argenson restaurant opposite the Lyon offices".
Aulas had sent Lyon director Marino Faccioli to study the new offer, and it was turned down.
"Jean-Michel Aulas has accepted the principle of a rendezvous with Roman Abramovich at the start of the next week in the south of France," the statement continued.
"But... Lyon are worried about Chelsea's repeated efforts to get the agreement of Michael Essien by all means."
Earlier on Thursday, Aulas accused Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho of "unceasingly" telephoning Essien.
And he told French newspaper Progres that he expected Chelsea to pay £31m, and offer a player in part-exchange.
"They shouldn't take French clubs for fools," said Aulas.
"Michael is worth between 45 and 50 million euros (£31-35million) and because time has been wasted if we are to recruit if Essien leaves us now, I estimate that our player will leave for 45 million euros, while bringing in one Chelsea player.
"Rather than unceasingly calling the player to make it all the more sad, Mourinho would do better to call me directly. Chelsea will learn to know me."
Essien travelled with the Lyon squad to South Korea and played in their 3-1 defeat by Tottenham in the final of the Peace Cup at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul.
But he did not play as French champions Lyon won the French equivalent of the Community Shield on Wednesday, beating Auxerre with a hat-trick from new signing John Carew.
Kenyon has said Chelsea are prepared to wait until the last day of the transfer window on 31 August to sign Essien.
But Mourinho has voiced his impatience about the delay.
"I hope we are sure about that soon - he comes or he doesn't come. If he comes, great - if he doesn't come it's not a drama," said Mourinho.
"But I need to know. One more option, a great option. But one more.
"If we get Essien we can say we have improved every area of the team. If we don't, we still have good options."