Championship League Focus: Everton close in on Rieper

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EVERTON are going into Europe in an attempt to stiffen the leakiest defence in the Premiership. Marc Rieper, the Danish international who tomorrow has the responsibility of stopping Arsenal and Ian Wright in the European Cup-Winners' Cup second round, is expected to sign for the Merseyside club in a pounds 1m transfer after the game.

Mike Walker, the Everton manager, was impressed with Brondby's 6ft 4in central defender when he played for his country against Belgium last week, and he will be at tomorrow's game with a view to completing the deal.

Rieper's contract runs out at the end of the year and Brondby are keen to cash in.

Coventry are close to reinforcing their defence, with Rangers' Scotland Under-21 international Steve Pressley involved in transfer negotiations at the Midlands club last night. Valued at pounds 700,000 he would push Phil Neal's spending close to pounds 4m for the season.

Leeds United's search for a goalscorer has led them to join the clamour for Kennet Andersson, the French-based Swedish international striker in whom Everton, Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace have all shown interest.

Andersson moved from Lille to Caen after the World Cup finals, during which he scored five goals as the Swedes took third place. He had rejected Palace on the grounds that he preferred to play 40 games rather than 60 a season, but later became a target for Mike Walker and Trevor Francis.

Wednesday agreed a pounds 1.5m fee, but pulled out when Caen upped the price after Andersson's goal for his country in Switzerland last week. Leeds, for whom Brian Deane has scored only 14 times in 15 months since Howard Wilkinson bought him for pounds 2.7m, have now enquired about the 27-year- old six-footer.

Uefa have fined Aston Villa around pounds 12,500 following the pitch invasion at the end of their Uefa Cup tie with Internazionale, although there is no threat to the club staging future European matches, or to Villa Park's status as one of the European Championship quarter-final venues in 1996.

The injured Paul Merson has been ruled out of Arsenal's European Cup-Winners' Cup tie with Brondby tomorrow night.