Football: Ince sought by Middlesbrough

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BRYAN ROBSON is ready to rescue Paul Ince's career with a move to Middlesbrough from Liverpool.

The Boro manager has been given the all-clear from his club to sign the former England international midfielder, who has been told he has no future at Anfield. Ince met Robson for talks yesterday, although the clubs are still to settle on a fee.

Ince is keen to stay on in the Premiership after his snub at Liverpool from their manager, Gerard Houllier, and Boro are one of the few teams who can afford his wages.

Liverpool will let Ince leave cheaply to get him off their payroll, but are still looking for around pounds 1m. That would be a loss of around pounds 6m in two years.

Houllier intends to replace Ince in his midfield with Dietmar Hamann. The German international yesterday agreed to join Liverpool - if they can agree a deal with his current club, Newcastle United. "We are currently trying to do that," the Anfield executive vice-chairman Peter Robinson said yesterday.

Hamann's successor in the Newcastle midfield will be the England Under- 21 international Kieron Dyer, who joined his new team-mates on their pre- season tour of the Netherlands last night after completing his pounds 6m move from Ipswich Town.

In the latest twist in the Nicolas Anelka transfer saga, Arsenal have offered to reopen talks with the Italian club, Lazio, about a move to Rome for the French striker. The Gunners turned down a bid from Lazio of pounds 18m plus an extra pounds 4m if Anelka is then sold on before 2003, but an agreement now seems to be near.

The Arsenal midfielder Stephen Hughes has turned down a pounds 4m move to Fulham. Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Everton and Leeds have all been linked with the 22-year-old.

Paulo Wanchope could become a West Ham player in the next 48 hours. The Upton Park club and Derby County are close to agreeing a fee, believed to be just over pounds 3m, for the Costa Rican striker. The Rams are set to replace him with the Argentinian striker Esteban Fuertes. The pounds 3m-rated 26-year-old, currently with the Argentinian club Colon de Santa Fe, has joined Derby on tour in the United States.

The England defender Rio Ferdinand has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract which will tie him to West Ham until 2005.

Roma and Real Madrid have been linked with the 20-year-old, but he has now agreed an improved contract just a year after agreeing a seven-year deal at Upton Park.

The Wolves managing director, John Richards, has revealed that Aston Villa have failed to match the club's valuation of their striker Robbie Keane. Wolves want pounds 6m for the Republic of Ireland international, a figure that was offered by Middlesbrough.

"We received an offer from Aston Villa which is nowhere near what we are looking for," Richards said. "The market value has been established and we would be delighted if Robbie was with us for the start of the season."

Another Irish striker at Molineux, Dominic Foley, 23 yesterday, has left Wolves to join Watford on a free transfer.

Everton have made a pounds 700,000 bid for Benfica's Welsh international midfielder Mark Pembridge. Another outcast at the Lisbon club, the former Liverpool defender Steve Harkness, is set to join Blackburn Rovers for around pounds 700,000.