Football / European Round-up: Maradona and Seville play a waiting game

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THE MARADONA circus swept into Seville yesterday, but the Argentinian's transfer from Napoli is promising to become as protracted as Gazza's from Spurs to Lazio. Seville seem convinced Maradona will sign any minute, while the Neapolitans issued a strongly worded statement denying that the Hand of God has put pen to paper.

The banners were out in the Andalusian capital as the former Barcelona player arrived with his agent, his wife, and the man in charge of his drugs rehabilitation programme. He landed in a private jet, and immediately left the airport in the company of the Seville president, Luis Cuerva.

Seville's last moment in the sun came in 1948, when they won the cup, two years after their only championship title; yesterday they lost to Deportivo Coruna, the unlikely early-season leaders, but Cuerva believes Maradona can revive them. 'I'm not saying we'll win the league, but we'll certainly improve a lot on past seasons,' he said.

Cuerva's confidence was not appreciated in Italy, where before their game with Foggia, Napoli released the following bulletin . . . 'There have been no negotiations with Seville, no official offer . . . just pressure, press articles and advertising benefits from which Seville are already profiting.'

The communique condemned what it alleged was 'the umpteenth example of undeserved violence which could condition the work and tranquillity of the club and the team'. Clearly miffed by Seville's frequent airing of their desire to acquire a player under contract at the San Paolo until 1993, Napoli added that any negotiations will have to wait until after their Uefa Cup game at Valencia on Wednesday.

The Napoli tifosi used to chant Ma-Gi-Ca in the late 1980s when the strikeforce of Maradona, Giordano and Careca was at its peak, but only the Brazilian remains. His goal touch is undiminished: both he and another South American, the Uruguayan Daniel Fonseca, were among the goals in the 4-2 defeat of Foggia. The Italian League had an odd day, the nine games producing two stalemates and 37 goals. Channel 4's love affair with Lazio brought them six goals last week and another four yesterday, the Romans drawing with Fiorentina.

Plenty of drama at Pescara where Milan came from behind to win a bizarre game 5-4. Milan, who dropped Jean-Pierre Papin, were 4-2 down within 23 minutes, Alessandro Costacurta and Franco Baresi scoring own goals to undermine the champions' cause. Milan desperately needed rescuing and the saviour was a familiar figure: Marco Van Basten. A hat-trick later and the 100 per cent record was intact.

Juventus, the other club in what is expected to be a two-thoroughbred race, moved into second after defeating Atalanta 4-1 in Turin. Juve, without David Platt, who broke his nose in Santander, relied on their other overseas players: Jurgen Kohler headed in the first and Andreas Moller, Platt's main rival, added the second and fourth. Gianluca Vialli headed the other.