Football: Ravanelli rumour angers Boro

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli is staying at the Riverside Stadium for the time being, according to Middlesbrough's assistant manager, Viv Anderson.

Reports that Ravanelli's agent, Alessandro Moggi, plans further talks with the European champions, Borussia Dortmund, later this month have angered the Boro management.

While Ravanelli himself was busy denying newspaper reports that he had had a fight with team-mate Curtis Fleming, Anderson moved quickly to insist no official approach has been made by either Dortmund or Moggi for fresh talks.

Anderson added: "Ravanelli is not talking to anybody unless we know about it first. If people want to buy Ravanelli, they have to come through the right channels.

"If Ravanelli scores in the first 10 games he will be linked with every club in Europe. We accept that this will happen, and there is nothing we can do about it."

Middlesbrough are prepared to sell the former Juventus player but are adamant they will not reduce their valuation figure of pounds 7.5m.

Ravanelli, who missed part of the pre-season build-up through transfer negotiations with Everton, scored a dramatic match-winning goal in Boro's opening First Division game against Charlton Athletic last Saturday.

Since then, however, he has been beset by the controversy surrounding the alleged confrontation with Fleming and has said he feared the newspaper claim, subsequently picked up by the press in Italy, could cost him his place in Cesare Maldini's national team.

"My image has suffered a major blow," he said. "My fear is that I won't be picked for the national side again. Cesare Maldini will certainly have read the newspapers, and who knows what he will think of me now?

"I'm already playing in a lower division, and now there's this story of a fight with a team-mate."

Ravanelli insisted the exchange was a verbal one and did not involve a fisticuffs. "Let's be honest, who hasn't had words with a colleague at work?" he said. "Surely that's only normal.

"Fleming and I traded insults, we told each other where to go, and things were a bit irritable on the pitch. But what I want to make clear is that I haven't changed my career: I'm a footballer by profession, not a boxer."