Football: Rangers deny pounds 6.25m deal for Gascoigne

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The Independent Online
Rangers yesterday dismissed claims Paul Gascoigne has been offered a pounds 6.25m golden-handcuff deal to remain with them until the end of his career. The Ibrox club described Gascoigne's reported five-year deal with a reputed annual salary of pounds 1.25m as "sheer speculation".

Archie Knox, the assistant manager, said: "It's not true. We have to contend with stories like this all the time. When there is something to be announced we will tell people."

Gascoigne's current deal with the Scottish champions expires at the end of next season. In 1995 Rangers manager, Walter Smith, paid the Italian club Lazio pounds 4.3m to sign the player on a three-year contract.

The controversial England midfielder has been a massive success at Ibrox, helping the club to a league championship and Scottish Cup double in his first season during which he scored 19 goals and won the Scottish Player of the Year award.

Gascoigne will be 30 in May and a number of English clubs are keen to take the rejuvenated former Newcastle and Spurs player back south. However, Gascoigne has a huge personal loyalty to Rangers boss Smith, whom he has credited for reviving his career when many top English clubs shied away from him because of fears over his fitness, and may wish to repay that faith by signing a new deal.

Meanwhile, Rangers' extensive list of sick players have been given another day in bed in the hope of recovering from flu in time to face Aberdeen at Ibrox this Sunday.

The Premier League leaders played Hibernian last weekend under protest after failing to have the game postponed, despite presenting doctor's certificates for 28 players. Some, such as Brian Laudrup, Erik Bo Andersen and Ian Ferguson, played despite being unwell, and Knox said yesterday: "The players are all off for another day and we'll see what condition they are in when they return tomorrow."

John Toshack arrived at Deportivo La Coruna's Riazor stadium yesterday to find it daubed with graffiti criticising him. "Toshack go home," read the graffiti, which was written in English and echoed a similar protest made against Barcelona's Bobby Robson last month.

On Monday the Welshman appeared to announce his intention to leave the club at the end of the season. But he tried to limit the damage done to his already poor relationship with Deportivo fans at a press conference yesterday.

He said: "The supporters are always right, they pay, and so we get paid. Saying they've been unjust with me is not an insult."

He claimed his initial remarks had been misinterpreted. "On 30 June [when his contract ends] I could be on the beach, or at a bullfight, or playing golf. Nobody's spoken to me yet," Toshack said.

Manchester City, Blackburn and Sporting Lisbon have been named in the Spanish press among clubs interested in securing the services of the former Liverpool and Wales striker, although Manchester City would now seem to be out of the running.