Football: Atletico poised to make pounds 17m bid for Anelka

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The Independent Online
ATLETICO MADRID are poised to make a pounds 17m offer for Arsenal's French striker Nicolas Anelka, according to Spanish media reports. Atletico have money to spend as they have effectively not replaced Christian Vieri since the Italian moved to Lazio last summer.

The Spanish transfer season does not begin until the summer, with no players able to be bought during the current campaign.

Peter Schmeichel hopes his performance against Internazionale tonight will attract attention from a Serie A side interested in signing a goalkeeper for next season.

The Dane's scheme, revealed to the Italian press, raises doubts about his original coment that he was leaving Old Trafford because of the "pressure of games".

Schmeichel will be extremely attractive to teams in Italy, as he is a free agent and might settle for a one-year contract. Roma have already shown interest in him.

Manchester United may yet persuade him to stay, but their spies are this week to watch watching the two leading candidates to replace him, Mallorca's Carlos Roa and Parma's Pierluigi Buffon. The Argentinian Roa plays in the European Cup-winners' Cup against Croatian's Varteks, tomorrow while Buffon was watched by a delegation at Bordeaux last night.

Middlesbrough will meet the Italian striker Marco Branca today to discuss his determination to return to Premiership action. The 34-year-old former Inter player has been fighting against a career-threatening knee injury since April last year, and he has played barely 20 minutes of football over the past 11 months.

Boro terminated his contract on medical advice in December after Branca was unable to provide any evidence that his knee would be able to stand up to a return to the top level of the professional game. Now the striker, armed with the diagnosis of Professional Footballers' Association orthopaedic surgeon, David Dandy, claims to have won his battle for fitness.

Boro yesterday said they would hold a meeting with Branca today, but the club's spokesman, Dave Allan, hinted that Branca's return to action is not a foregone conclusion.

"We have received a draft of Mr Dandy's report which isn't inconsistent with the earlier diagnosis from Andrew Weeber," he said. "In view of the reports of the two consultants and Marco's insistence that he wants to continue playing, we're going to sit down with him on Wednesday and try to work out a satisfactory solution for all concerned."

Miguel Dominguez, a 19-year-old Paraguayan striker, has joined Middlesbrough on loan.

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