Football: Arsenal try to tempt Baggio with pounds 6m and European stage

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL have offered Roberto Baggio pounds 6m over the next three years to move to Highbury, according to Giuseppe Frascara Gazzoni, the president of his club, Bologna.

However, Baggio - included in Italy's World Cup squad - has never shown any interest in leaving Italy and the Gunners face competition from Internazionale, who could offer the Nigerian midfielder Nwankwo Kanu on loan in return for pairing Baggio up front with Ronaldo, although they are expected to make a lower offer of pounds 4m over three years.

"The chances of Baggio leaving us have unfortunately risen to 99.9 per cent," Gazzoni said. "Arsenal and Inter are offering him something that we can't: the Champions' League. It's a bit more prestigious than the InterToto Cup, but we haven't given up yet.

"We obviously want to keep him: he can do things with his feet that other people can't even do with their hands. But Arsenal are offering him 18bn lire (pounds 6m) and we can't afford that."

The South Africa-born striker Sean Dundee is to undergo a medical today to seal a pounds 2m move to Liverpool. Karlsruhe have agreed to release the player in a quest to cut their wage bill after being relegated from the German First Division.

Stan Collymore has rejected speculation that he will be leaving Aston Villa. "I love being a Villa player," he said. "I am the first to admit these 12 months have not been the best for me either on or off the pitch. But I have learned a lot from what has happened and that will stand me in good stead in the future."

Brian Laudrup reiterated yesterday that his move to Chelsea will go ahead without a fee and he expressed sadness about his treatment by Rangers.

"During my farewell party, I did not exchange a word with David Murray [the Rangers chairman]. He stayed away from me even though I considered him a friend. That treatment has given me an ache in the heart."

Laudrup also denied he had agreed he would not move to another British club. "As we negotiated, David Murray said in a joking tone he hoped he would never see me in a Manchester United jersey," he said. "But I would never have entered into anything which would remotely look like such a deal."

The minister for sport, Tony Banks, has played down reports that England are trying to host the World Cup in 2002. Yesterday Fifa, football's world governing body, insisted that the event would still take place in Japan and South Korea and claimed that hosting the finals could even help to alleviate the region's economic problems.

Yesterday Banks warned that any suggestions that the Football Association was plotting to stage the 2002 finals could jeopardise England's bid to stage the following World Cup, in 2006.

"The suggestion that I have ordered officials to prepare for the possibility of us staging the 2002 World Cup is entirely fictitious. I have issued no such instructions," he said.

"We are not pitching for the 2002 tournament. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Japanese and the South Koreans will host the World Cup and it will be superb. Nonsense like this actually damages our chances for 2006."