Football: Fowler signs on for five years at Anfield

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The Independent Online
THE LIVERPOOL striker Robbie Fowler ended months of speculation by signing a five-year deal with the Premier League club yesterday. The 23-year-old England international, who joined the club as a schoolboy, said he was delighted to be staying at Anfield.

West Ham were also strengthening their squad yesterday, with Harry Redknapp completing the signing of the pounds 3.5m Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe as well as the troubled Sheffield Wednesday striker Paolo Di Canio, for pounds 2m.

Of Fowler's decision to remain at Anfield, Gerard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, said: "It is a massive boost to Liverpool Football Club and the future to have him re-sign."

"I was always going to sign anyway," Fowler insisted. "A lot has been made up but I am very happy and there is no reason for me to want to leave anyway. I'm really happy that I've signed it now."

Liverpool had reportedly offered Fowler pounds 8m to keep him at Anfield for the next five years, but he had refused to sign a contract which would have made him the highest-paid player at the club. He still had 18 months to run on his current contract, which pays him around pounds 1m a year.

Fowler appeared before the media with the Cameroon international defender Rigobert Song, who joined Liverpool from Salernitana of Serie A last week.

Fowler said he had no anxieties about signing a long-term contract. "We've got a very good side," he said. "The signing of Rigobert shows we are going the right way."

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.

Meanwhile at Upton Park, Di Canio has only to complete a medical to finalise the transfer after the fee was settled between the clubs. The Italian was due in London last night although West Ham were claiming that the transfer was not far advanced. Di Canio has been in dispute with Wednesday over fines imposed since his sending-off for pushing the referee Paul Alcock in September.

Foe will complete his move from the French champions, Lens, in time for Saturday's Premiership meeting with Wimbledon. Redknapp yesterday denied reports that the signing had been completed, but he told West Ham ClubCall: "There are still just one or two details to be tied up but, hopefully, it will be done in time for Saturday's game."

Heading from east to west London is Tim Breacker. The Hammers' right- back is expected to move to Queen's Park Rangers in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the QPR striker Mike Sheron met Barnsley yesterday to complete a pounds 1.5m switch to Yorkshire, while their neighbours Huddersfield were attempting to sign the Tranmere centre-half John McGreal for pounds 500,000. Huddersfield also want the Oxford United striker Dean Windass, but his FA Cup goal against Chelsea will delay the transfer until after next week's replay.

The Nottingham Forest manager, Ron Atkinson, is to take the former West Ham midfielder Hugo Porfirio on loan from Benfica. Atkinson also wants another former Hammer, the 31-year-old American John Harkes, to sign on loan .

The Celtic youngster Mark Burchill has ended months of speculation over his future by signing a new four and a half year deal. The 18-year-old striker had refused to be rushed into signing a new contract but put pen to paper yesterday.

Motherwell's efforts to secure John Spencer on a permanent basis have failed, with the Scotland international forward returning to Everton.

Strachan charged;

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