Football: Ravanelli to stay at Middlesbrough

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli yesterday returned to Middlesbrough to keep the pay cheques rolling in, but left his agent to do all the talking.

The 28-year-old Italian striker, who should have reported for pre-season training three weeks ago, was, said Pino Pagliara, "happy to be back and looking forward to playing a large part in winning promotion for Middlesbrough back into the Premiership".

Reassuringly, Pagliara also said that the "White Feather" - weekly wage pounds 42,000 - was "going to save Middlesbrough a lot of money", presumably meaning that the club would not have to spend lavishly on a replacement for a player on whom Everton were prepared to spend pounds 7.5m.

Three hours of discussions between Ravanelli, his agent, the club's chairman, Steve Gibson, and the manager, Bryan Robson, left Boro satisfied that they now have a player "fully committed" to the coming campaign in the First Division where he will play alongside new signing pounds 4.5m Paul Merson.

In a statement Middlesbrough said: "Fabrizio Ravanelli has returned to Middlesbrough. He's looking forward to the start of next season and he is fully committed to Middlesbrough Football Club."

Ravanelli, who scored 31 goals for Boro last season and has three years left of his contract, believes his ambition to play in the World Cup with Italy will not be jeopardised by staying on Teesside. Concern for his international career with Brazil played a large part in Juninho's decision to leave the Riverside and join Atletico Madrid.

"Maldini [the Italian coach] chooses players not teams," Pagliara said. "He is more concerned with an individual's performance rather than who they play for. We all know Fabrizio can perform against the best players."

Paul Ince yesterday completed his pounds 4.2m move from Internazionale and expects to be part of a title-winning Liverpool side during the four years of his contract

The 29-year-old England midfielder feels Liverpool, without a title in seven years, have under-achieved in recent seasons, and he is determined to put that right.

"I'd like to feel I am approaching my peak," he said. "Last year Liverpool should have won the championship. They need to dig out results. That's what I can do," he said. "Liverpool are a great club and it's another challenge. I've come to win things and that's why I am here."

Roy Evans believes that he has inherited a player who has got the Midas touch when it comes to honours. "His record speaks for itself at home, when he was with Manchester United, in Italy and at international level," the Liverpool manager said. "He is not happy just coming to the club. He wants to add more trophies and is seeking to win the championship. He has great motivation and a great asset to Liverpool."

Ince is convinced that he is a better player for his two seasons in Italy and would have remained there, but for Liverpool's interest.

"Manchester United had first refusal," he said, "but I would have gone back to Inter Milan if Liverpool had fallen through."

Inter's rivals, Milan, look to have succeeded in persuading Leonardo to leave Paris St-Germain. A spokesman for the French side said the Brazilian midfielder had agreed personal terms, although the Italians had yet to table a formal bid.

A pounds 3.25m fee for the player has been set by PSG, who are expected to target another Brazilian, Edmilson, currently with Portuguese champions Porto, to replace Leonardo.

Celtic have made an approach to Southampton for Dutchman Ulrich Van Gobbel. Wim Jansen, the Celtic coach, has enquired about the 27-year-old defender who joined Saints last season for a club record fee of pounds 1.3m from Turkish club Galatasaray.

Jansen worked with Van Gobbel for three years while they were both at Feyenoord and has spoken to the Saints chairman, Rupert Lowe. "I can confirm we have had an enquiry from Celtic about Ulrich Van Gobbel and there are a couple of other clubs also interested in him," Lowe said.

Van Gobbel followed the former Saints manager Graeme Souness from Turkey to The Dell but has failed to impress the new manager, Dave Jones.

Birmingham City have dropped their interest in the 23-year-old Norwegian striker Ole Martin Aarst.

The Brighton secretary, Derek Allan, has resigned from the Third Division club after two and a half years for personal reasons just two days before a Football League meeting which could expel Seagulls for late payment of a pounds 500,000 bond.

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