Football: Forest chase Blanc

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The Independent Online
NOTTINGHAM FOREST, bottom of the Premier League, face a three-way tussle with Marseille and Nimes for the services of Laurent Blanc, the French international sweeper who is surplus to requirements at Napoli.

Ronnie Fenton, assistant to the Forest manager Brian Clough, confirmed yesterday that they had opened negotations to sign the pounds 1.5m-rated former Montpellier player, who is 26 and won his 24th cap last week.

Forest hope to take Blanc initially on loan for a year, on a similar basis to the deal under which Eric Cantona first joined Leeds United from Nimes. This would allow both club and player time to gauge their mutual suitability, while also allowing Forest to devote their resources to signing other players.

However, Blanc has held talks with the two French clubs, and Forest may be pressed to compete financially with Bernard Tapie's Marseille. Clough is not noted for his love of the sweeper system, though his son Nigel, the Forest and England forward, is understood to have been impressed at international level with Blanc's ability to operate as a marker.