Asprilla poised to join Newcastle

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The Independent Online
Football

Newcastle United were last night on the verge of completing the signing of Faustino Asprilla for pounds 6.7m.

It was reported last night that the Colombian striker, who is thought to be earning about pounds 20,000 a week at Parma, had agreed terms with the Premiership leaders after talks in Italy with Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager.

Asprilla said on Italian television that "effectively, Parma and Newcastle have agreed and the only thing missing for the transfer is my signature."

If there are no last-minute hitches in the deal, the Colombian could be a Newcastle player early next month and could be available to make his debut in the North-east derby at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium, when he would face their Brazilian, Juninho.

Another Newcastle pursuit came to a halt, though, when Jack Walker blocked their pounds 3.5m bid for David Batty. The Blackburn Rovers owner stopped negotiations on the sale of the unsettled midfielder even though Keegan came up with a vastly improved offer which the Blackburn manager, Ray Harford, was prepared to accept.

It is understood that Walker, who has the final say in transfer matters, does not favour selling "a big player to a rival club", and will want more cash before he considers letting Batty go.

Blackburn are holding out for pounds 4m for Batty, who may now ask for a transfer. He was led to believe he was on his way to Newcastle to play the central midfield role he prefers. The only way to kickstart the transfer is if Batty demands to leave, but it would cost him money in loyalty payments. Blackburn have also turned down a pounds 3m offer from Arsenal for their captain, Tim Sherwood.

Birmingham last night pulled out of a deal that would have made Vinny Samways, the Everton midfielder, their first seven-figure signing. Samways, who has been on loan at Wolves, is available for pounds 1.5m, but Birmingham were not prepared to go beyond pounds 1.2m or to meet the player's personal demands.

Manchester City yesterday completed the pounds 350,000 signing of the international defender Michael Frontzeck from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Darren Anderton could be challenging for a Tottenham place in a fortnight after his return to reserve team action following a groin operation in September. Everton have put defender Matt Jackson on the transfer list at his own request.

Mervyn Day, the former West Ham goalkeeper, has been appointed manager of Carlisle United, whose director of coaching, Mick Wadsworth, has become assistant manager at Norwich City.

Oldham win, results, page 23

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