The Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has spent two days in Amsterdam in an attempt to secure the services of the De Boers. The brothers, 26, are contracted to the former European champions until 2000, but each has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave at a certain price.
Sources close to Ajax indicate that Arsenal were prepared to pay a sum that would have more than doubled their record outlay of pounds 7.25m for the De Boers' compatriot, Dennis Bergkamp. But after discussions the pair made it clear that they wanted to wait until the end of the season. Despite their mediocre showing in domestic competition, Ajax face Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final of the European Cup.
Frank de Boer is a mobile defender who has succeeded Ronald Koeman as the Netherlands' free-kick specialist. Having played in the World Cup finals of 1994, he missed Euro 96 because of injury. Ronald is equally comfortable in a number of positions. He was one of the few Dutch successes in England last June playing as a attacking midfielder.
Arsenal's chances of signing the brothers are enhanced by the salaries at Highbury. Bergkamp is reportedly on pounds 1m a year, plus bonuses, while the De Boers earn pounds 300,000, despite being Ajax's best players. However, there is the possibility that the Ajax coach, Louis Van Gaal, will replace Bobby Robson at Barcelona in the summer. In that event, the brothers may follow him to the Nou Camp.
The swift dismantling of the Ajax side in the wake of the Bosman ruling, will also see the 20-year-old striker Patrick Kluivert and the utility player Winston Bogarde, 26, leave for Italy on free transfers when their contracts expire in May.
Andrei Kanchelskis will already be there, the Everton winger having joined Fiorentina for pounds 8m. His manager, Joe Royle, claimed that the Russian, signed from Manchester United in 1995 for pounds 5.5m, had been unsettled all season.
"There was a bit of shady dealing by agents which unsettled Andrei in the summer and he never got going," Royle said. "He had a few illness and injury problems but it was up to Andrei to be strong in that situation. He wasn't and he's gone."
Nick Barmby, Everton's pounds 5.75m record buy, has denied that he is about to do the same and join Newcastle. "It's irritating to read I want to leave just because I've been dropped," the striker said. "It's so far from the truth it's unbelievable. I'm not going anywhere."
Blackburn Rovers will welcome the Polish international Marek Citko to Ewood Park today for a cut-price pounds 2.5m. The 22-year-old Widzew Lodz striker was on offer for pounds 4m, but Rovers held off and then offered a loan deal. This was rejected in favour of hard cash.
Citko's arrival will hasten the departure of the versatile Paul Warhurst to Birmingham City for pounds 1.5m. City have the finance after selling their central defender Gary Breen to Coventry for pounds 2.5m, buying the Brentford striker Nick Forster for pounds 700,000 and still having change.
At least three takeover bids for Nottingham Forest look set to be lodged with the Forest board by the weekend. The Phil Soar-Nigel Wray bid is already on the table and the local video entrepreneur Grant Bovey confirmed yesterday that his group, backed by the Monaco-based millionaire Lawrie Lewis will be bidding. Also in the frame is Albert Scardino, an American journalist who has lined up venture capital backers for his offer.
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