City sign German charged with car theft

Maurizio Gaudino signed for Manchester City last night after leaving Germany, where he has been charged with car theft and fraud.

Even in today's sleaze-riddled transfer market this deal stands out, City snapping up a player who was arrested just a week ago in Frankfurt and suspended by his club, Eintracht, for the offence that has shocked German football.

City have taken Gaudino on a six-month loan, after which they will have first option to buy the 28-year-old midfielder for £1.5 m. Bernd Holzenbein, Eintracht's general manager, flew to Manchester to conclude negotiations personally and the player will make his debut against Newcastle United in the Coca-Cola Cup replay tonight.

The sight of the Toon Army should not faze Gaudino, who was arrested last week by police after appearing on a television chat show in which he had been roller-dancing with Katrina Witt, the German ice-skater.

Gaudino was confronted in the dressing-room, where police claim he confessed to being a member of a crime ring who stole expensive cars in a double-edged ploy. The cars were later sold in the east, while the owners also claimed insurance money.

Gaudino was suspended by his club and the transfer to Manchester had to be rubber-stamped by the state authorities. The player will answer those charges at a later date.

Hristo Stoichkov, the Barcelona and Bulgaria striker, has been voted 1994 European Footballer of the Year by the France Football magazine. The award is based on journalists' votes in 49 European countries. Stoichkov polled 210 points.

Second and third places went to members of Italy's World Cup final side: the Juventus striker and last year's award winner Roberto Baggio, with 136 points, and the AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini, with 109.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR: 1 H Stoichkov (Bulgaria, Barcelona) 210pts; 2 R Baggio (Italy, Juventus) 136; 3 P Maldini (Italy, AC Milan) 109; 4 T Brolin (Sweden, Parma), G Hagi (Romania, Barcelona) 86; 6 J Klinsmann (Germany, Tottenham Hotspur) 43; 7

T Ravelli (Sweden, IFK Gothenburg) 21; 8 J Litmanen (Finland, Ajax Amsterdam) 12; 9 M Desailly (France, AC Milan). D Savicevic (Yugoslavia, AC Milan) 8; 11 F Baresi (Italy, AC Milan), M Preud'homme (Belgium, Benfica) 7; 13. E Cantona (France, Manchester United), M Laudrup (Denmark, Real Madrid), Y Letchkov (Bulgaria, SV Hamburg), K Balakov (Bulgaria, Sporting Portugal) 4.

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