Football: Korsten snub angers Leeds

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GEORGE GRAHAM, never one to be the least bit sentimental about his former employers, is about to send Leeds United into a fury by capitalising on Willem Korsten's rejection of a permanent move to Elland Road. The Tottenham manager is primed to secure the Dutch midfielder's services for around pounds 1.5m.

This will no doubt infuriate Graham's successor at Leeds, David O'Leary, who was aiming to agree a permanent deal for Korsten from his club Vitesse Arnhem, going so far as to accept all of the Dutchman's wage demands after he impressed while on loan.

However, Korsten and his advisors have now said they want to speak to other teams, and Graham may step in and conclude a move this week.

Leeds are understandably taken aback by the developments. Korsten has been with them since January and made a handful of promising appearances. The Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has been left "completely mystified" by the player's apparent change of heart. "It is very disappointing because it is certainly the first example I have ever had of a player who has asked for an amount of money on a contract and then, when you offer it to him, decides not to take it," Ridsdale said.

"All I have heard is that he has taken into account where he thinks his other opportunities might be this summer, which may well include an opportunity in Holland and, feasibly, opportunities in England. But nobody has given me an explanation which I believe is satisfactory. I am completely mystified."

However, Graham, always on the look-out for a bargain, can offer him the chance of joining his squad, with the attraction of playing in Europe next season.

The Aston Villa manager, John Gregory, has dropped a strong hint that Colin Calderwood, a bargain signing secured from Graham's clear-out at White Hart Lane, could earn an extension to his contract. Gregory took over the remaining 15 months of 34-year-old's contract when signing him from Spurs just before the transfer deadline for pounds 225,000. He was seen initially as a short-term replacement while Ugo Ehiogu recovered from a fractured eye socket that is likely to end his participation this season.

However, the former Scotland international has created such a favourable impression on Gregory in his three games - against West Ham, Leicester and Southampton - that he could be offered a longer stay at Villa.

Gregory said: "Colin might be 34 but he has proved he can keep going for another two or three years. I brought him in to consolidate the defence, and he has done exactly that.

"He was in the World Cup with Scotland only last summer. He has played well, and since he came into the side we have kept two clean sheets in three games. We have missed Ugo, and there has been a massive responsibility on Gareth Southgate's shoulders. We wanted Colin to take some of that responsibility away from him.

"He's played well, and let's just say that Colin is going to make himself a good living over the next couple of years."

The Football Association of Wales remains optimistic that the final Euro 2000 qualifier against Switzerland will be staged at Cardiff's Ninian Park in October as originally scheduled. The plan to play in Cardiff had been put in jeopardy by the Welsh rugby union team's fixture against Japan in the World Cup at the city's Millennium Stadium on 9 October.

Italy are in Belarus in their final match of Group One that same weekend and unless Italy have already qualified and Belarus are no longer in contention it is likely that Uefa, football's European governing body, will decide on the dates and kick-off times of the two games.

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