Football: Ferguson looks to South America for pounds 10m deal on Salas

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Manchester United have a reputation for producing homegrown talent, but they may be about to spend pounds 10m on a Chilean striker, Marcelo Salas. Alan Nixon reports.

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, was so impressed with what he saw of Marcelo Salas at the weekend that he has told the Chilean striker's agent to proceed with the deal to bring him to Old Trafford.

Ferguson watched Salas in Chile's World Cup victory over Bolivia. The prolific striker's agent, Pini Zahavi, was due to fly to Argentina yesterday to meet Salas's club, River Plate, in an attempt to reduce the fee from the club's pounds 12m valuation.

United's chief executive, Martin Edwards, is standing by to fly to South America this week if a price can be agreed. Salas is also keen to talk to United and it is understood there would be no problems with his personal terms. "Italian, Spanish and German players all want to play in England - I think it's the best place in the world to play." Ferguson said yesterday. "I think Salas could play here without any problem."

Liverpool are set to go to the High Court to clear the way for Brad Friedel's pounds 2m move to Anfield. The club are angry that their work permit application for the United States goalkeeper is being held up by red tape. Roy Evans, the manager, wants to fly Friedel in for a debut against Barnsley at Anfield on Saturday, but the Department of Employment and Education are refusing to let Friedel in immediately because they are in a legal wrangle with Portsmouth over their attempt to sign the Australian goalkeeper, Zeljko Kalac.

Liverpool are willing to go to the High Court themselves in the next 48 hours to get Friedel into the country in time to play at the weekend. The club intends to prove that there are players already in England who have poorer international records than Friedel.

Everton have moved to kill off speculation that their chairman, Peter Johnson, is about to sell his controlling interest in the Goodison Park club. After growing rumours that he was on the brink of selling his 24,000 shares, Everton issued a brief statement on his behalf, saying: "There is no truth whatsoever in the recent speculation surrounding chairman Peter Johnson's shareholding at Everton FC."

An Everton spokesman said: "I understand that he and his advisors are making strenuous efforts to obtain the source of this misinformation."

Arsene Wenger admitted to concern about his players' commercial activities yesterday after leaving Ian Wright out of the side to face Coventry in the Coca-Cola Cup tonight. Wright has not scored in his last four matches and recently told the England coach Glenn Hoddle that he is to do less off the field.

"Ian is a little low on confidence at the moment and asked me how he could change things," Wenger said. "I encouraged him to cut down on off- the-field activities. Some players earn more off the field than they do from their jobs. The problem will have to be solved."

Faustino Asprilla's planned comeback for tonight's Coca-Cola Cup tie against Derby is in doubt. The Newcastle striker, who has missed the last six weeks because of a groin injury, has picked up a virus.

Kevin Drinkell, the Stirling manager, is to back the Ivory Coast-born striker Landry Zahani-Oni after allegations that he made obscene gestures to Partick Thistle supporters. Police received three complaints after the First Division match at Forthbank on Saturday and the matter has been referred to Stirling officials and the Scottish Football Association. However, Drinkell intends seeking a meeting with the Scottish Players' Union chief, Tony Higgins, claiming his player was racially abused.

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