Football: PSV reject higher United Stam bid

PSV EINDHOVEN have rejected Manchester United's second bid for their Dutch international centre-back Jaap Stam.

The United chairman, Martin Edwards, flew to the Netherlands yesterday morning to make a fresh attempt to buy the defender. United are understood to have increased their offer by pounds 3m to around pounds 10m for Stam, who was recently voted the Netherlands' Player of the Year, but that is still not enough for PSV.

Edwards said later that PSV were still considering United's offer, without saying exactly how much it was. The Dutch club do not want to lose Stam, who is under contract until 2003, and are unwilling to accept much less than their pounds 15m asking price.

United are refusing to comment on their latest bid, but a PSV spokesman, Pedro Salazar-Hewitt, contradicted Edwards, saying: "We told Mr Edwards our point of view and he has gone back to England to think about it and talk to his people there. It's now up to him to come back to us some time in the future if he wants to and we didn't arrange another meeting."

Stam has stated he would like to move to the Premiership and join United and a number of English sides are apparently interested in him.

Salazar-Hewitt denied that PSV were holding on to Stam in the hope that his value will rise after the World Cup finals in the summer. Stam, 25, is expected to play a starring role for the Netherlands in France, which could increase his value.

"To wait until after the World Cup would be a gamble because he may not play well or he could get injured," he said.

Manchester United will be at full strength for today's Premiership match with Liverpool at Old Trafford. Peter Schmeichel has been declared fit after having problems with his hamstring late in Monday's game at Blackburn and Nicky Butt looks certain to start after coming on as a second half substitute during the 3-1 win at Ewood Park.

Philip Neville could be the player to stand down if Butt plays, with Ryan Giggs and Gary Pallister set to start their first game at Old Trafford since 21 February.

The Liverpool captain, Paul Ince, believes the match is make or break for his side's title hopes. "We believe we can beat Manchester United but it's win or bust - this truly is it," the former United midfielder said.

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