FOOTBALL: Ferguson nearly out of time to buy Yorke

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER UNITED are running out of time in their attempts to sign Dwight Yorke before tonight's European Champions' League deadline.

United have until midnight to prise the striker away from Aston Villa - and register him in time to spearhead the club's assault on Europe's main club competition - but their manager, Alex Ferguson, admitted yesterday their hopes are fading.

"It looks like it's at a dead end," conceded Ferguson. United are still hopeful of signing the player and will make every effort to do so before the deadline expires. Yorke, 26, has said he would like to join United, but only if he can play in the Champions' League if he does so.

Villa are determined to hold on to him and have rejected bids of pounds 8m and pounds 10m for the Trinidad and Tobago international, whom they have priced at pounds 16m. United have so far refused to be held to ransom and have shown no signs of meeting the asking price.

Villa may be ready to do business if Andy Cole was offered as part of any deal, but, according to United, that is a not an option. The Midlands club have admitted they may be forced to sell Yorke at the end of the season, when he will have just one year remaining on his contract. He has refused the offer of a new deal, which would have made him the highest paid player in the club's history, and could walk away in two years' time on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

Chelsea have turned down a bid from Nottingham Forest to exchange Pierre Van Hooijdonk for Chelsea's Norwegian World Cup striker, Tore Andre Flo. The Chelsea manager, Gianluca Vialli, however, is considering a pounds 2.5m bid from Forest for the Blues' defender, Michael Duberry.

The Forest manager, Dave Bassett, said: "Flo is a player I admire greatly and he would have been an ideal replacement for Van Hooijdonk. Unfortunately, Chelsea weren't interested in taking Pierre."