Football: Fowler opts to stay at Anfield

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The Independent Online
THE LIVERPOOL striker Robbie Fowler has put an end to speculation about his future by signing a new five-year contract to remain at Anfield. The 23-year-old England international is believed to have accepted the offer of pounds 2m a year to remain at the club he joined as a schoolboy. Fowler thus becomes the highest-paid player at Liverpool and one of the leading earners in British football.

The Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, continued with his overhaul of the club by completing the the transfer of the Cameroon international defender Rigobert Song.

Fowler, born just a few miles from Anfield, said he had no anxieties about signing a long-term contract, and added: "We've got a very good side. The signing of Rigobert is a good one and shows we are going the right way."

Fowler said his partnership with Michael Owen was developing quickly. "Up to now we've done quite well and hopefully we can continue that in the years to come," he said. "Let's hope we can get the goals that win leagues and cups."

Asked if he felt he and Owen could form a successful England partnership, Fowler said: "I don't see why not. We have got to be given a chance."

And, in a light-hearted moment, Houllier joked: "They have a better chance of an England partnership than Yorke and Cole, anyway."

One player who may be about to leave Anfield is Jason McAteer. Blackburn Rovers yesterday made a final offer to secure the midfielder's services with the promise of a long-term contract at Ewood Park.

Brian Kidd, the Blackburn manager, wants McAteer in his side for Saturday's meeting with Tottenham, when he will be without the suspended captain, Tim Sherwood, and Billy McKinlay, who has a virus. Kidd is anxious to persuade McAteer that he stands a better chance of selection at Blackburn than Liverpool, even when the missing pair are available.

Another manager in the process of rebuilding, Nottingham Forest's Ron Atkinson, is to take the former West Ham midfielder Hugo Porfirio on loan from Benfica. Atkinson, who took over at the Premiership's bottom club just over a week ago, is also trying to complete the loan signing of another former Hammer, the 31-year-old American John Harkes.

The Oxford United managing director, Keith Cox, has said that income from the club's FA Cup encounters with Chelsea have ruled out the need to sell any more players before the end of this season. Gate receipts mean that the First Division side will earn up to pounds 200,000 from the replay.

Arsenal's England goalkeeper David Seaman has allayed fears he could be out for the rest of the season after being cleared to return to full training after missing seven games with a shoulder injury.