Football: Liverpool on trail of Ivory Coast striker

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The Independent Online
Liverpool have joined the race for the African striker Ibraham Babayoko. In his search for a partner for Robbie Fowler, the manager Roy Evans flew to France at the weekend to watch the Ivory Coast striker play for his club, Montpellier, in an Intertoto Cup match.

Babayoko is on offer at about pounds 4m and his agents have also been in touch with Newcastle and Manchester City in the past few days. The 20-year-old is expected to move to England after playing in a World Cup qualifying match for his country this week.

Everton are ready to offer Newcastle United more than pounds 5m for Les Ferdinand. Howard Kendall's initial bid was rejected by Newcastle, who value him at pounds 6m.

Kendall is also trying to pin down Duncan Ferguson to a new contract. The Scot and his agent will have talks today about raising his wages to pounds 1m a year, about the same as Slaven Bilic, signed from West Ham late last season.

Derby County, who signed the Italian international midfielder Stefano Eranio from Milan in May, have made a bid for his former team-mate, Roberto Baggio. An Italian newspaper said that Derby are prepared to spend pounds 10m. Baggio said last month that he would be leaving Milan before the start of next season.

Nottingham Forest have told their foreign players Andy Silenzi and Nikola Jerkan there is no place for them at the City Ground. Forest assistant manager Bobby Houghton said: "We have given them as much time as necessary to find other clubs. We hope for everyone's sake they get fixed up."

Italian striker Silenzi cost pounds 1.8m from Torino two years ago and has played only eight games. Croatian centre-half Jerkan, a pounds 1m buy from Spain, has figured in just 14 games.

Manchester United are interested in signing Sampdoria's 23-year-old striker Vincenzo Montella, the second highest scorer in Serie A last season. United's Clubcall phone line said yesterday that Alex Ferguson had been keeping a close eye on the Italian, who scored 22 goals last season.

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