Football: Berg makes pounds 5m move to United

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The Independent Online
Henning Berg joined Manchester United in a pounds 5m deal yesterday, taking the road from Blackburn Rovers that has been blocked in the past.

Jack Walker, the Blackburn owner, had stopped a previous bid from United and was also behind the acrimonious negotiations that diverted Alan Shearer to Newcastle rather than Manchester when he was moved out for a record pounds 15m. However, Roy Hodgson, the Rovers manager, feels he has enough cover to sell Berg and invest in other areas.

Berg's arrival ends Ferguson's long search for a new centre-back. He was turned down by Markus Babbel from Bayern Munich and failed to get a work permit for the Brazilian, Celio Silva. An inquiry for West Ham's Rio Ferdinand was also rebuffed, while the Chilean Dante Poli returned home after a trial at Old Trafford.

The versatile Berg can also play right-back, but wants to be a central defender, the position he occupies for Norway. However, his registration came too late for him to play in tomorrow's game against Southampton at Old Trafford.

Berg, who has won 44 caps for Norway, lost his place in the Blackburn line-up after the arrivals of Stephane Henchoz and Patrick Valery in the summer.

However, there was disappointment for United yesterday with the news that Andy Cole's opening-day jinx has struck again. The striker has had surgery on an abscess in his calf and will probably not play until the end of the month.

Everton are lining up the pounds 1.5m signing of the Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper Alan Kelly from Sheffield United, who have signed the former Manchester City keeper Andy Dibble on a short-term deal.

Manchester City are hoping to sign Crystal Palace's young winger Tony Scully for pounds 1m this week. The Republic of Ireland Under-21 player has been allowed to leave Palace and City want to move quickly. City are willing to pay around pounds 300,000 immediately with the rest of the money based on appearances.

Ian Pearce will be the next player to leave Blackburn Rovers, with a pounds 1.5m move to Crystal Palace lined up last night. The centre-back will decide on his future in the next 24 hours. Another possible arrival at Selhurst Park is Neil Emblen, the Wolves midfielder, is about to become the most expensive player ever to leave Molineux.

Emblen, who was signed by Graham Taylor from Millwall for pounds 750,000 in 1994, is having talks with Crystal Palace over personal terms prior to a pounds 2m move.