Football: Arsenal interest in Brolin a mystery

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MYSTERY surrounded Arsenal's interest in the Swedish World Cup striker Tomas Brolin last night with reports from Italy suggesting that negotiations for a pounds 2.8m transfer to Highbury were well under way but the club itself professing no knowledge of the deal.

Ken Friar, the Arsenal managing director, said: 'If it is true that we are signing Tomas Brolin it is a new one on me. I think I would have heard.'

George Graham, the Arsenal manager, hinted at the weekend that he would be looking abroad to recruit new talent. Brolin, an international team-mate of the Arsenal newcomer Stefan Schwarz, is out of contract with Parma. Graham must register any new signings by next Monday if they are to be eligible to play for Arsenal in the opening rounds in Europe this season.

Mark Stein joined the growing ranks of players who will miss the start of the season when the Chelsea striker was ruled out yesterday for up to two months with a recurrence of the ankle injury that afflicted him last season.

Stein, signed from Stoke City last October and the scorer of 14 goals in 23 games for Chelsea last season despite being out for nearly three months, will have an operation on Friday on the same ankle which required surgery to damaged ligaments in March.

Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Waddle should be playing in six weeks despite a slight setback in his recovery from an Achilles tendon operation. Waddle, already ruled out for the start of the season, recently felt discomfort in the tendon that was operated on in April and had a check with the Glasgow surgeon who performed the operation.

Newcastle are poised to sign Belgium's World Cup player, Philippe Albert, from Anderlecht for pounds 2m, leaving Tottenham frustrated once more in their attempts to procure an international-class defender. Anderlecht confirmed yesterday that they have accepted a pounds 2m bid from Newcastle, and Albert is expected to agree personal terms with Newcastle's manager, Kevin Keegan, some time today, on his 27th birthday.

Tottenham may now turn their attention to John Scales, the much-coveted England B defender who has put in a transfer request at Wimbledon with the aim of moving to 'a more ambitious club'. His manager, Joe Kinnear, emphasised yesterday that no one will be leaving.

Barry Horne has joined Mike Walker's growing list of unavailable players at Everton and faces a cartilage operation after picking up a knee injury in the friendly against Vitesse Arnhem.

Jamie Pollock, the Middlesbrough midfielder who attracted interest from many of the leading Premiership and First Division clubs last season, has signed a one- year extension to his contract.