Football: Everton target African striker

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THE EVERTON manager Walter Smith is attempting to address his new club's lack of goals by moving for the African striker Ibrahima Bakayoko in a pounds 4.5m deal - before selling his captain, Duncan Ferguson.

Smith was last night trying to push through the deal under the noses of Arsenal, who had the Ivory Coast-born player on trial prior to the season. Bakayoko could arrive at Goodison from the French club, Montpellier, before the end of the week for talks and a medical

Fast and strong, Bakayoko - just 21 - would be an ideal younger and cheaper alternative to Ferguson, who is a target for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Rangers. Smith would sell Ferguson for pounds 10m, with Middlesbrough having their latest pounds 8m offer rejected at the weekend. That would leave Smith funds to buy a second striker.

Bakayoko is highly rated in France, where he was Montpellier's leading scorer, but the club have now decided to sell. Arsenal had been considering a move for Bakayoko after he trained with them, but there were problems about the fee and obtaining a work permit.

However, Bakayoko would have a better chance of staying in the Everton team and keeping his status, although he is also looking into the possibility of gaining an EU passport by becoming French.

Bolton are poised to sign the right winger Marco Nappi from Genoa. The Italian turned out for Wanderers' reserves last night and could secure a contract in the next few days.

Charlton have put the striker Bradley Allen and the defender Stuart Balmer on the transfer list. The club's manager, Alan Curbishley, said both players were "at a stage in their careers when they need to be playing first-team football".

The Liverpool defender Mark Wright is retiring from the game after failing to shrug off a persistent back injury. The 35-year-old, who won 45 England caps and made more than 600 senior appearances with Oxford United, Southampton, Derby and the Anfield club, has been out of action for almost a year.

Super League battle, page 23

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