Football: Graham goes Dutch to stiffen defence

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The Independent Online
George Graham, like most of his Premiership colleagues, has had to look abroad to strengthen his squad. The Leeds United manager yesterday paid the Dutch club Volendam pounds 1m for their 6ft 3in 27-year-old centre-half, Robert Molenaar.

It is only Graham's second signing since replacing Howard Wilkinson at Elland Road - he bought the Norwegian defender Gunnar Halle for pounds 600,000 from Oldham last month. "He [Molenaar] can play as a sweeper or a marker," Graham said. "He has a couple of coaching badges, so he can understand different systems."

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has dismissed speculation linking him with a move for the Real Madrid strikers, Davor Suker and Predrag Mijatovic, claiming the rumours were started by the players' agents in order to raise their clients' value.

Ferguson is keen on the Real defender Fernando Hierro. He told a Spanish newspaper: "He's a player that we like a lot for his flexibility and character on the field. The only problem is that Real don't want to sell him." Real Madrid are signing the Milan full-back Christian Panucci for around pounds 3m.

David May will play for Manchester United at Tottenham on Sunday after a hernia operation, due this week, was delayed. Two players who did have hernia operations yesterday and will be out for at least a month were Aston Villa's Mark Draper and Derby's Igor Stimac.

West Ham have completed the sale of their Romanian international midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu to the Mexican club, America, for pounds 1m. Manchester City have sold their German full-back Michael Frontzeck to Freiburg for pounds 250,000.

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