One club which the 18-year-old Irishman will definitively not be joining is Aston Villa. "We have now withdrawn our offer for Robbie Keane," confirmed the Villa manager, John Gregory, yesterday. "We offered them 11-twelfths of what they wanted but that was deemed not to be enough. If there are that many other clubs queuing up to sign him, then we suggest Wolves sell him to somebody else - but we won't be pursuing the matter any further."
After scoring the winner at Manchester City last Sunday, Keane popped up with a stunning equaliser just after half-time against Portsmouth yesterday. The goal showed why Keane is such a wanted man. When inspiration was required with Wolves a goal down at the break, he chipped the ball over a defender with his right foot and then drove it home with his left from 12 yards three minutes into the second half.
"It was fantastic," said his manager Colin Lee. "Robbie's certainly the only player in our team who could have scored that goal. All the transfer speculation doesn't affect him, he just keeps doing the business."
Although the Wolves chairman, Sir Jack Hayward, says his bank-rolling days are over, Wolves badly need a striker in the Steve Bull mould on the evidence of yesterday's performance. After a record 306 goals in 561 appearances over 13 years, Bull made an emotional farewell before the game - and then watched his former team-mates spurn a series of chances.
Haavard Flo was the main culprit as he failed to convert two good opportunities in the opening 15 minutes. Andy Sinton's cross found him unmarked at the far post but Andy Petterson spread himself well to save with his legs, and then the Norwegian headed a simple chance over after some good work from Kevin Muscat. Midway through the half, Sinton again crossed for Keane to head against the crossbar with Pompey all at sea.
Despite some neat midfield play, the visitors rarely threatened. When they did, their captain Andy Awford spurned a marvellous chance by spooning over when Alan McLoughlin's free-kick found him unmarked on the far post after 28 minutes.
Portsmouth took the lead eight minutes later against the run of play. Petterson's long clearance should have been chested back to his opposite number Mike Stowell by Keith Curle but, as a result of a misunderstanding, Rory Allen nipped in and, despite colliding with the keeper, managed to knock the ball in from 12 yards.
Having brought Wolves back into the match, Keane went from hero to semi- villain with a quarter of the game left. Darren Bazeley's cross was nodded across goal but the unmarked striker headed over from six yards. Wolves launched an all-out assault on the Pompey goal in the last 15 minutes but the visitors hung on for a point.