Football: Aston Villa to move for Keane next week

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The Independent Online
ASTON VILLA are expected to add to yesterday's captures of the Coventry midfielder George Boateng and Israeli international Naguan Garayeb by completing the pounds 6m signing of the Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane next week.

The Villa manager, John Gregory, flies out with his squad today for a pre-season tournament in New York, but should return to seal the transfer of the 19-year-old Keane from Wolves. The Molineux side are likely to respond by completing a club-record pounds 3m acquisition of Ade Akinbiyi from Bristol City.

Gregory has also released the striker Stan Collymore to Fulham for a three-month loan spell while defender Riccardo Scimeca is set to join Nottingham Forest for pounds 3m.

Boateng, like Garayeb, has signed a four-year contract at Villa and Gregory expects big things from the Dutchman. "I was attracted to his ability as an industrious midfield player," he said. "He is a young man of 23 and he played very well against us at Villa Park when he scored two goals. I'm delighted to have got him because it's been a long saga.

"The chairman [Doug Ellis] has worked very hard on the deal while on holiday in Palma and I'm pleased that George will be on the plane to New York with the rest of the players."

Boateng hopes the move can help him make the step up to full international honours with the Netherlands, but he says he never asked to leave Highfield Road. "It was not a case of me wanting to leave Coventry but I've been sold," he said. "It's a great opportunity to join Villa and will be a very good investment both for the club and myself."

Gregory sees the signing of Garayeb as adding competition to his defence. The Villa manager declared himself delighted after stealing in to sign the player who failed a medical at Tottenham earlier this month. Spurs claimed the player had a knee problem.

"We wanted to sign Garayeb in April but his advisers wanted him to join Tottenham. But we were alerted that he was having a few problems with a medical and we stepped back into the deal," Gregory said.

Reports from Rome suggest that Juventus are considering selling their French midfield player Thierry Henry to Arsenal for 30 billion lire (pounds 10.5m). Italian newspapers say Juventus, who bought Henry from Monaco six months ago for 20 billion lire, had originally started negotiations to sell him to Arsenal as part of their attempts to sign Nicolas Anelka, who rejected a transfer to Turin.

Chelsea have signed the 25-year-old goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini on a year's loan from the Italian Third Division side Castel Di Sangro. Cudecini has been capped by the Italian national side at various youth levels and as an Under-21.

The Southampton manager, Dave Jones, has signed the young Portuguese centre-back Marco Almeida from Sporting Lisbon on a year's loan with a view to a permanent move. Almeida, 18, will complete a move to The Dell on a free transfer if he impresses this season.