Football: Everton move for Nigerian World Cup striker: Walker agrees pounds 3m club-record fee for Amokachi and pursues Bulgaria's Kostadinov in search for Goodison Park goal power
Saturday 27 August 1994
Amokachi, given permission by Club Bruges of Belgium to find new employers, and who recently turned down Tottenham, was involved in talks with Walker yesterday. The 22-year-old is expected to sign, subject to a work permit, after the game at Manchester City.
Once the deal is complete, Walker will not allow the rest of his transfer reserves to gather interest. A disappointing start to the season, which has seen Everton gather just one point from two games, has heightened the need for new talent to add to the pounds 2.2m summer purchase of Vinny Samways. The midweek defeat by a Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired Tottenham underlined the impact an international- size personality can bring to bear on an average team.
With Tony Cottee (who is likely to join Ipswich) and Paul Rideout told they have no future at Goodison Park, Walker wants to link Amokachi with the Bulgarian goalscorer, Emil Kostadinov, but will have more trouble prising him away from his Portugese club, Porto. He has also made enquiries with Rangers for the former England centre-forward, Mark Hateley, and with Swindon for their Norwegian marksman, Jan-Age Fjortoft.
It was Amokachi's breathtaking goal against Greece that ensured Nigeria finished top of their World Cup group in America. With pace and strength he has the potential to be a favourite with the Everton supporters, whose team have fallen on hard times in recent years and who only escaped with their Premiership skins thanks to a goal in the final 10 minutes of last season.
It is planned to parade the new signing before Tuesday's home game with Nottingham Forest. Assuming he obtains a work permit - with 25 international caps it should be a formality - Amokachi will become only the second black player in Everton's history after the winger, Cliff Marshall, who made seven appearances in the 1970s. It also means that Crystal Palace fans can rest easy that Walker has given up his pursuit of the pounds 5m-rated Chris Armstrong.
Bruges expected Amokachi to return yesterday morning and his no- show led to him being dropped by the coach, Hugo Broos, from the side to play Ostend tomorrow. He was one of the premier talents in Belgium last season and finished the club's leading scorer with 13 goals. An extended post-World Cup holiday meant he found himself out of the team on his return, which only increased his desire to move.
'We do not want to sell, but he seems determined to go and we will probably give him his wish,' said the Bruges general manager, Antoine van Hove. 'We will not budge from our asking price because we have other clubs interested.'
Amokachi had his heart set on joining the lire millionaires in Italy, which is why he rejected Tottenham's overtures after Ossie Ardiles had agreed to meet the pounds 3m fee. There were rumours that Juventus and Ajax, of Amsterdam, were also in the hunt, but Genoa were the only club to make an official approach and they refused to pay the price. With Italian interest on the wane, the player has since admitted that he was wrong to snub Spurs.
Norwich last night completed the pounds 800,000 signing of the Manchester City striker Mike Sheron, who will claim the No 22 shirt previously worn by Chris Sutton. Sheron, an England under-21 international, will watch today's game with West Ham.
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