Football: James in pounds 1.8m move to Villa

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The Independent Online
DAVID JAMES joined Aston Villa for pounds 1.8m from Liverpool yesterday. He will replace the Australian international goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who has moved to Manchester United on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

James, 28, has joined Villa on a four-year contract. He has lost his place in the England squad after some shaky performances at Anfield, but yesterday he said: "Now I've got an opportunity to fulfil what I want to do, and that is to get back into the England team. I do not think the criticism at Liverpool was justified- but that's football."

John Gregory, the Villa manager, said: "I firmly believe we have got a bargain at the price."

Another international goalkeeper, Denmark's Peter Schmeichel, is travelling to Portugal for talks with Sporting Lisbon. The former Manchester United No 1, who left Old Trafford at the end of last season, has been offered a two-year contract worth around pounds 1.5m in wages.

Nottingham Forest have received a bid from Vitesse Arnhem for their Dutch striker Pierre van Hooijdonk - but they insist no deal has been done. Forest are looking for around pounds 4m for the player who effectively went on strike at the start of last season, but the Dutch club Vitesse have not yet matched that price.

According to reports in Germany, Celtic have held transfer talks with the 34-year-old German international defender Thomas Helmer, 34, who has been released by the Bundesliga champions.