Football: Helmer says no so Houllier goes for Song

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The Independent Online
GERARD HOULLIER was preparing to sign Rigobert Song yesterday after a day of chaos and confusion in the transfer market for Liverpool.

The Cameroon international centre-half is poised to move to Anfield in a pounds 1.5m deal from the Italian club Salernitana after Houllier's first choice, Thomas Helmer, turned down a move from Bayern Munich.

The German veteran, who was available on a free transfer, stalled on a six-month contract offer, feeling there was no point in leaving Bayern for such a short-term arrangement - he wanted at least 18 months on Merseyside.

Houllier then turned to Song, who had played at left-back in a trial game on Merseyside on Wednesday. The French coach knows the player from his time at Metz and will try to agree a price today.

Song will need a work permit, which may not arrive until the end of January. That would mean the maximum of three work-permit players on the staff, ending the prospect of Olexandr Holovko signing. The Dynamo Kiev player also appeared on trial, against Tranmere on Wednesday, but did not impress Houllier as much as Song.

One player who Houllier is unlikely to be signing has none the less found fame of a sort. The Corinthians midfielder Vampeta is breaking new ground - as a model for a gay magazine.

The Brazilian international will be the cover model on the January issue of G Magazine, according to a Sao Paulo newspaper, which printed photos of Vampeta - fully clothed - and excerpts of the interview.

Vampeta said he was not a homosexual but had no prejudices against homosexuals. Some players known to be gay are accepted by team-mates, he said, although there were no gays playing for Corinthians.

Wanderley Luxemburgo, the Corinthians coach, who also looks after the national side, said he had nothing against the modelling session as long as it did not hurt the team.

"I wouldn't buy the magazine because I think Vampeta is very ugly," said Luxemburgo, whom the magazine is also trying to persuade to get his kit off for their readers.

Brazil is more relaxed about homosexuality than other Latin American countries. While some referees are openly gay, no leading player has come out of the closet.

Back home, Scotland's leading sides are set to increase in the number of league games they play, rather than the reduction sought by Uefa.

The Scottish Premier League said yesterday that it is committed to changing from its 10-club set-up to 12 by 2000, and Roger Mitchell, the League's chief executive, said: "It has not been confirmed yet what the final figure is but we have very little room for manoeuvre."

Scotland's leading sides currently play 36 league games per season while Uefa is advising that 34 is the limit and would like to scale that down to 30 to fit in the expanded Champions' League and Uefa Cup competitions.

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