Asprilla transfer to Newcastle 'still on'

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The Independent Online
Faustino Asprilla's pounds 6.7m move to Newcastle United from Parma could still go ahead, despite the Premiership leaders' doubts about the Colombian striker's knee and their reported attempts to have the fee reduced by pounds 2.5m.

"I think we should be reasonably optimistic," the Italian club's lawyer, Leandro Cantamessa, said yesterday. "We're not talking here about a good club and a bad club but two good clubs. It's when you get good and bad that you don't reach an agreement."

The Parma chairman, Giorgio Pedraneschi, said on Sunday, after he met Newcastle officials in Milan, that Asprilla's move had been blocked by differences over the player's fitness.

However, Cantamessa said the deadlock was due to "misunderstandings" between the clubs over the nature of their agreement and Asprilla's condition. "When a footballer plays at top level like Asprilla he's bound to take knocks but that doesn't mean he's injured," he said. "I think we can still reach an agreement without any price cut."

One player who looks like staying in Italy is Paul Ince of Internazionale, now managed by the Englishman Roy Hodgson. "Things are very good now that Mr Hodgson has come here and there is no reason for me to want to leave," Ince said yesterday. "I'm settling in well and things are looking up."

Ince's Serie A colleagues, angered by what they consider a high-handed attitude by federation and league officials, have called a strike for 17 March.

Sergio Campana, the leader of the Italian players' association, said that players felt let down by a lack of communication with officials over proposals to disband part of Serie C.

"The players don't count for much and it's not democratic," the Juventus striker and players' association committee member, Gianluca Vialli, said. "We want to vote on the decisions that interest us."

Campana said that if the authorities did not respond, the players would strike. On subsequent Sundays Serie B and Serie C clubs would follow suit.