Football: pounds 4m Ward is top of Kidd's list

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The Independent Online
BRIAN KIDD has made a pounds 4m attempt to make Ashley Ward his first signing for Blackburn Rovers. The new manager at Ewood Park has contacted Barnsley with an offer for the striker. Kidd wants to bring Ward into the survival battle where his goals almost kept the Yorkshire club in the top flight against the odds last season.

Ward is keen to return to the Premier League and will be interested in joining Blackburn. Leeds and Leicester were already in the hunt before Kidd took the Rovers' job.

Jack Walker has promised Kidd money to save the club this season and their entry to the chase makes them favourites to sign Ward. However, the Barnsley manager, John Hendrie, is fighting to keep hold of the player.

He said: "I want to keep Ashley as long as I can. We have rejected Blackburn's approach. In my mind, there is no point in selling him. There is no way he will be leaving while we have a chance of the play-offs."

However, Blackburn are likely to make a renewed and increased offer this week and, with Ward saying that he is keen to leave, Hendrie has a tough battle on his hands.

Liverpool's efforts to sign the German centre-back Thomas Helmer have stalled after Bayern Munich demanded a transfer fee for the 33-year-old defender. The Anfield manager, Gerard Houllier, had hoped to acquire Helmer on a free transfer after talking to his agents in Manchester last week. However, Bayern now say that they want compensation, possibly as much as pounds 1m and Liverpool will not pay for a player of his age.

Helmer has confirmed that he is in negotiations with the Merseysiders and awaits a conclusion to the talks, but the answer will be no unless the fee drops. Liverpool, meanwhile, are bringing in the Cameroon defender, Rigobert Song, on trial this week.

Harry Redknapp has strongly rejected suggestions that Rio Ferdinand is on his way out of West Ham in a multi-million pound deal. The England international had been linked with a move to Manchester United or Liverpool, but the Hammers manager insists he is trying to build a team - not dismantle it. "Why should we sell our best players?" Redknapp said. "We are a Premier League club and we get tremendous support. Are we just a selling club? I don't think so."

The Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Stefan Klos has indicated he will not be moving to Rangers. The Bundesliga club say Klos would be allowed to leave during the winter break if they could find a replacement, but efforts to bring in Milan's Jens Lehmann appear to have foundered over the transfer fee.

The Premier League has defended its decision to offer Arsenal help in finding a new shirt sponsor to replace JVC at the end of the season. The Premier League's commercial director, Stephen Pearson, is bidding to negotiate any deal in return for a fee. The League insists any payment would be far less than a fee charged by an agent.

An Arsenal spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that the club has been approached by the Premier League together with many other agents to assist the club in finding a new sponsor. At present, no decision has been made on who the club will use."

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