Football: Everton offer pounds 3m and players for Ravanelli

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli got a call from Italy yesterday telling him to report for World Cup duty - and he can expect another one from Everton should Middlesbrough decide that pounds 3m, plus two players, is fair exchange for the striker's services.

Howard Kendall is willing to part with the forward Graham Stuart and the versatile Earl Barrett - both valued at pounds 2m - despite the breakdown of a pounds 7.5m cash-only move to Goodison in the summer when Everton balked at paying the Italian pounds 50,000 a week.

The Everton manager still sees Ravanelli, who has been called into Italy's squad for the World Cup trip to Georgia on 10 September, as the ideal partner for Duncan Ferguson.

"You don't change your opinions on the player," said Kendall as he prepared his team for tonight's home game against Manchester United. "He is a top- class striker and scored plenty of goals in the Premier League last season."

Although Stuart scored the winner for Everton against West Ham on Saturday, his first-team place is not guaranteed, while Barrett's position is under threat from the recently-arrived Tony Thomas from Tranmere Rovers.

Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, would ideally like the Everton captain Gary Speed as part of the package, but he is not for sale. Should the Ravanelli deal go ahead Robson is expected to use the money to finance a pounds 1.5m move for the Birmingham City striker, Paul Devlin.

Kevin Kilbane, the 20-year-old West Bromwich Albion winger, has been drafted into the Republic of Ireland squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Iceland and Lithuania.

Wimbledon's financial affairs are to be merged with those of the Norwegian team, Molde, according to reports from Oslo. The new company, valued at pounds 51m, will be listed on the London and Oslo stock exchanges.

The Norwegian entrepreneurs Kjell Inge Roekke and Bjorn Rune Gjelsten paid pounds 25m in June for a majority stake in the Dons. The partners are also major shareholders in Molde.

England will again receive an extra place in the Uefa Cup next season after finishing top of the Fair Play table established by European football's ruling body. However, it will still mean only four Premiership sides gaining automatic entry to the competition, as Uefa has confirmed that it has ended the agreement with the FA that gave the Coca-Cola Cup winners direct access to Europe.

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