Football: Atletico's pounds 5m deal to entice Del Piero

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The Independent Online
ATLETICO MADRID are to offer Alessandro Del Piero, the Juventus striker, a salary of pounds 5m a year in an attempt to entice the Italian international to Spain.

Del Piero, 24, has not renewed his contract with Juventus, but Atletico, according to reports in Spain, would have to still pay Juve pounds 10.5m for the forward on top of personal terms. Preliminary talks took place between the Atletico director general, Miguel Angel Gil, the son of the Atletico owner Jesus Gil, and Claudio Pasqualin, the player's agent, last month during Atletico's Uefa Cup quarter-final with Roma. Del Piero has missed most of the season through injury in what has so far been a disappointing season for the club.

Michael Owen has been given an unexpected push in his efforts to be the Premiership's top scorer. The Liverpool striker has been credited with a goal against Middlesbrough on Boxing Day, originally awarded to Jamie Carragher.

The Premier League have decided that Owen had the final touch after Carragher shot through a busy goal mouth at the Riverside. It means the 19-year- old has 18 Premiership goals, two ahead of his nearest rival, Dwight Yorke, with another Manchester United striker, Andy Cole, and Leeds' Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink both on 15.

In all competitions, Yorke has 26 goals, three more than Owen, but for the Golden Boot award only Premiership goals count.

Nottingham Forest's record this season could make them the worst team in the Premiership's history. They currently have 21 points from 32 matches and are on course to "beat" Ipswich's 27 points - albeit from 42 games - in 1994-95. The lowest points total from a 38 game season was Bolton's 29 in 1995-96.

Deon Burton, Derby's leading scorer, will be unavailable for the Rams' Premiership visit to West Ham on 17 April because of suspension. The centre- forward is banned after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Newcastle on Saturday.

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