Football: pounds 12m Hasselbaink goes from Leeds to Atletico

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The Independent Online
TWO FOREIGN strikers left England for Madrid yesterday and there will be few tears shed for either Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or Nicolas Anelka.

Amid many unsavoury and conflicting words the Leeds striker has joined Atletico Madrid for pounds 12m while Arsenal were finally able to announce that their recalcitrant Frenchman had signed for Real Madrid for pounds 23.5m.

Hasselbaink, who had two years to run on his Leeds contract, put in a transfer request last week after refusing to sign the best contract in the club's history. David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, said Hasselbaink had asked for a weekly salary of more than pounds 30,000.

Atletico, who had been involved in a desperate search for a striker after failing to land Valencia's Claudio Lopez, had a pounds 10m offer rejected twice by Leeds.

Peter Ridsdale, the Leeds chairman, stated that all the transfer cash will be handed to O'Leary to find a suitable replacement, once Hasselbaink, who scored 42 goals in his two seasons at Elland Road, agrees personal terms and completes a medical. The former should be a formality as Atletico are willing to offer the 27-year-old pounds 40,000 per week over the next four years.

While the Dutch international contemplates such riches, his agent, Humphrey Nijman, has revealed Hasselbaink had no desire to leave a club he says he loved, while also pointing an accusing finger at Leeds for the breakdown in negotiations.

Ridsdale was willing to offer Hasselbaink, a pounds 2m buy from Boavista two years ago, pounds 25,000-per week deal for the next five years, double his original contract and a sum which would have made him the best-paid player in United's history.

"It was never Jimmy's intention to put in a written transfer request," Nijman claimed. "That was the initiative of the club, they more or less demanded it. From the beginning of the negotiations we had an agreement with Leeds that everything that was said would be kept among us. But stories were coming out and that was very disappointing.

"Among other things it made Jimmy's attitude change. It was never about money as many people believe. It was a number of issues which altered the situation. We were very unhappy with the way things went and that's the reason why Jimmy was pretty determined in his decision.

"But it's not only a money thing, which is why Jimmy has been very hurt by the accusations saying he is greedy. Jimmy needs emotional satisfaction.

"But Jimmy loves the fans and he loves Leeds. He would have loved to have stayed at the club."

A United spokesman confirmed that the club insisted on the transfer request in writing to show it was the player who wanted to leave and not that Leeds wanted to sell.

Anelka's wish to fly away from England will be complete today if he passes a medical at the Bernabeu Stadium. He has already agreed personal terms.

Kanu, his probable replacement at Highbury, has had to fly home to Nigeria to be with his family but is still expected to be available for his side's opening Premiership match at home to Leicester City on Saturday.

The Nigerian international missed yesterday's official club photo-call after travelling to Lagos, reportedly to be at his sick mother's bedside.

Steve Harkness is set to become Blackburn Rovers's fourth signing in a week. The former Liverpool left-back will join today from Benfica if a price can be finally agreed after weeks of haggling.

Harkness wanted to leave Portugal after Graeme Souness left and may have got his wish with just days to spare before the start of the new season.

Brian Kidd, the Rovers manager, has already signed Craig Short, Simon Grayson and goalkeeper Alan Kelly.