Football: Hammers say Ferdinand is not for sale

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The Independent Online
THERE WERE conflicting reports over the future of Rio Ferdinand yesterday. On the one hand, Roma were saying they have already secured the services of the England defender, while West Ham were insisting that they had not even been in contact with the Italians.

The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport even reported yesterday that Ferdinand has agreed to a five-year contract. Roma declined to discuss details, but the Hammers' secretary, Graham Mackrell, said, "It's just nonsense. We haven't been in negotiations with Roma. We have no intentions of selling the player and such comments are unhelpful."

A Roma spokesman said the club chairman, Franco Sensi, was preparing to travel to London for talks today or tomorrow, adding: "The deal should be finalised within a couple of days."

There was more Italian interest yesterday when the Lazio chairman, Sergio Cragnotti, arrived in London hoping to finalise a deal with Arsenal for Nicolas Anelka.

According to reports, the club officials were accompanied by the 34-year- old striker Roberto Mancini, though it was unclear whether he is to be part of an exchange deal for Anelka or is talking to Chelsea about a move.

Anelka, 20, is rated at pounds 20m and has told Arsenal he will not play for them again. He has also brushed aside suggestions that Juventus and Parma may try to gazump Lazio in order to secure his signature.

Anelka said: "I have not heard anything about Juventus or Parma, but it's Lazio that interests me anyway - it's a very big club."

Lazio confirmed yesterday they had signed Argentinian midfielders Diego Simeone and Juan Sebastian Veron. The European Cup-Winners' Cup holders also announced they had signed the Swedish forward Kennet Andersson from Bologna, the Argentinian defender Nestor Sensini from Parma and the young striker Simone Inzaghi from Piacenza.

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