Football: Arsenal attacked over Nano move

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The Independent Online
BARCELONA'S Louis van Gaal has become the latest coach to criticise Arsenal for poaching young players over their pounds 1.6m approach to the 17- year-old midfielder Nano.

The Spanish football federation yesterday said it could not prevent the transfer of the teenager, who plays for the Catalan club's youth team.

Nano currently has a contract with Barcelona, and earns around 60,000 pesetas (pounds 280) a week, but the prevailing view within the Spanish FA is that is the contract is void because it was signed when he was 15 and that professional terms should not apply before a player's 16th birthday. However, the proposed move has raised concerns in Spain about the poaching of their best young talent. In the last month Spain's sides have won the World Under-20 and European Under-16 titles.

Nano, whose full name is Fernando Maceda da Silva, was one of the stars of the latter team. "We cannot go against fundamental rights, which is the freedom for a footballer to play where he wants," said the Spanish FA's general secretary, Gerardo Gonzalez. "However it is the desire of the Spanish federation that the best Spanish players play in our own country," Gonzalez added.

Barcelona are still determined to hang on to the player though. "Arsenal want me and I am disposed to go there but Barcelona seem determined to do everything to block me going," Nano was quoted as saying in the Barcelona- based sports daily Sport yesterday.

The decision left van Gaal resigned to losing Nano to the London club. "This wouldn't be the first time that Arsenal have done something like this," van Gaal grumbled last week.

Arsenal were previously accused of trying to poach youngsters from France, where there was some unhappiness when they signed Anelka from Paris St- Germain.

The West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, has ruled out a move for Croatian World Cup striker Davor Suker, because of the player's pounds 40,000-a-week pay demands.

Redknapp, responding to reports that Real Madrid are prepared to offer Suker plus cash for his prized centre-back Rio Ferdinand, said: "I'd love to see Suker at Upton Park but there is no way he's coming here because he's too expensive for us. I want to bring in another striker because Ian Wright has only one year left on his contract, so now would be a good time to bring a forward in."

Suker, who won the golden boot with six goals at the World Cup finals in France last summer, is out of contract and has expressed an interest in moving to the Premiership. He is available for nothing under the Bosman ruling.

Vladimir Smicer, the Czech international winger, has told his French club, Lens, that he will only leave to join Liverpool.He is wanted by Gerard Houllier to replace Steve McManaman and has rejected a pounds 5m move to Paris St Germain because he is desperate to join his compatriot, Patrik Berger, on Merseyside. He said: "It has been two months since the clubs started talking, but Lens are asking for a lot of money. I've told my president that I really want to go to Liverpool and I hope he will drop his price."

Steve Bruce, who left Sheffield United this week, is set to be offered a three-year contract to manage Huddersfield after talks with the Terriers' multi-millionaire owner, Barry Rubery, yesterday.

Dion Dublin, the Aston Villa striker, is to undergo summer surgery to overcome a knee injury suffered in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on 1 May.

Nigel Martyn, the Leeds United goalkeeper, has told Kevin Keegan he will not be available for England's Euro 2000 qualifier against Sweden on 5 June. David Seaman's understudy has been advised to rest a niggling knee injury and is also expected to miss the qualifier in Bulgaria on 9 June.

Leicester City's flamboyant goalkeeper Pegguy Arphexad has signed a new one-year deal.

Everton's manager, Walter Smith, wants to make the striker Graham Stuart his next "golden oldie" signing. Smith is in talks with relegated Charlton about a possible exchange deal to bring Stuart back to Goodison.