Football: Italians renew commitment to Chelsea

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The Independent Online
Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo have both signed two-year extensions to their contracts at Chelsea.

Zola has committed himself to the club until 2002, taking him to the age of 35, while Di Matteo also signed a similar contract extension taking him to the age of 31, the club revealed yesterday. Their promising 20- year-old midfielder Mark Nicholls has also extended his contract.

Chelsea have also been linked with the Rangers striker Brian Laudrup, whose contract runs out this summer. His agent was reported to have held talks at Stamford Bridge last weekend, and the Dane is expected to choose between Chelsea and Ajax.

Portsmouth will discover in 10 days' time what action they will face from the Football Association after the assistant referee, Edward Martin, was attacked by a Sheffield United supporter during the 1-1 draw on Saturday.

The FA launched an inquiry following the incident at Fratton Park, when Martin was knocked unconscious. David Davies, the FA spokesman, confirmed yesterday they will wait for the report of the referee, Mark Halsey, before deciding what action to take.

Meanwhile, Pompey have abandoned their attempt to sign the Australian international goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac following a sixth-month legal wrangle over the Department of Employment's refusal to issue a work permit.

Sheffield Wednesday are also at the mercy of the DoE - their hopes of signing the Polish defender Pawel Wojtala on loan from Hamburg hinge on the success of their application for a work permit.

Wednesday have agreed to pay Hamburg an initial fee of pounds 60,000 plus an additional pounds 20,000 for each appearance the 25-year-old makes during a loan period that extends until the end of the season.

The Premiership club have also agreed a fee of pounds 800,000, should they decide to sign him permanently in the summer.

Manchester City could have a third Georgian in their side on Saturday after finally receiving a work permit for Kakhaber Tskhadadze, after beating Liverpool to sign the Alania Vladikavkaz defender.

George Graham, the Leeds manager, has denied rumours linking him with a pounds 3m move for Portugal's leading scorer Nuno Gomes, and a possible swap deal involving Rod Wallace.

"I was at Benfica on Sunday, but I was actually watching a player from Setubal," Graham said. "So there's no truth in the story linking myself with Gomes. I have not made a bid for him and I have also not received an offer for Wallace from Benfica."

Newcastle have signed Aberdeen's Scotland Under-21 midfielder Stephen Glass on a pre-contract agreement. Glass travelled to Tyneside for talks yesterday to tie up a deal, after playing in Monday's 3-1 defeat at Celtic. Aberdeen rate the 21-year-old at pounds 1.5m, although the Magpies would prefer to pay around pounds 500,000.

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