Arsenal the favourites in Ince chase

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The Independent Online
Martin Edwards, the Manchester United chairman, yesterday cleared the way for Paul Ince to return to English football, as speculation concerning his future reached fever pitch. Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle were all reported to be interested in signing Internazionale's unsettled midfield player last night.

The matter is likely to reach a conclusion today, as Italy's transfer window comes to a close at 7pm. Inter turned down a pounds 6.5m bid from Arsenal last week but the suggestion in Italy this week has been that Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, is prepared to part with Ince to fund the acquisition of a new striker, which is seen as a priority for the ailing team.

Ince, a close friend of Ian Wright, is thought to have had talks with Arsenal this week, with one report suggesting he was in discussions with the club yesterday. A claim last night that Tottenham had topped the bid of their north London rivals was quickly denied in Italy. Another report suggested that Newcastle have joined the chase, though Arsenal are thought to be favourites if Ince does come home.

With Inter desperate to sign a striker - Sampdoria's Roberto Mancini, Roma's Marco Branca and Caio Ribeiro of Brazil's Sao Paulo are the principal targets - the Ince deal may hinge on their success today. If Inter are unable to sign anyone by tonight there would seem little point in selling Ince.

A clause in Ince's contract, agreed when United sold him to Inter in the summer, gives United first refusal on any future transfer, but Edwards said his club would not be activating it. "I don't think our manager, Alex Ferguson, is interested in bringing Ince back to Old Trafford. We would certainly not object if Ince wants to join one of our rivals," he said.

Leeds expect to begin negotiations with the Italian club Parma today to secure the services of the Swedish international striker Tomas Brolin. The 25-year-old passed a medical at Elland Road on Tuesday before returning to Sweden to consider the move, but Bill Fotherby, the Leeds managing director, is confident that having turned down three Serie A clubs, Brolin will come to England. "I am very confident that Brolin will join us," Fotherby said.

Sheffield Wednesday have rejected a pounds 800,000 bid from Bari for the Swedish international Klas Ingesson. Birmingham have signed the Swedish international striker Dan Sahalan on a month's loan. The Hammarby IF player will arrive next week.

Port Vale have signed the Canadian international centre-back Randy Samuel from the Dutch club Fortuna Sittard. Swindon have signed Blackburn's Australian goalkeeper Frank Talia, 21, for pounds 125,000. Talia. Alvin Martin will retire at the end of the season by which time he will be 38. He has been with West Ham for 21 years.

Ferguson loses appeal, page 30