Football: Ravanelli turns to red

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The Independent Online
As the start of the new season looms, the speculation and squabbling surrounding the off-season merry-go-round of coaches and players continues.

The intrigue is Ravanellian rather than Machiavellian though, with Fabrizio's future in English football still in doubt. If the Italian striker does stay it will most likely be on Merseyside, though there are conflicting reports which throw doubt on the colour of strip he will wear - the blue of Everton or the Red of Liverpool.

Everton have had a pounds 7.5m bid accepted by Middlesbrough. Ravanelli's agent, Alessandro Moggi, said the 28-year-old was "honoured" by the Goodison club's interest. But yesterday Ravanelli appeared to have changed his mind, after reportedly declaring: "There is only one club I will return to England for - Liverpool."

Liverpool had failed to agree a price with Boro, but their interest may be revived by the latest turn of events. The lure of partnering Robbie Fowler and Liverpool's place in the Uefa Cup could be just the platform that Ravanelli is searching for to help regain his place in the Italian national side before the World Cup in France next year.

Everton live in hope that the former Juventus player will agree personal terms, but that is the least of their worries.

Howard Kendall's managerial return to Goodison Park has sparked a furious response from Sheffield United, the club he abandoned for the Everton post.

Bramall Lane officials have accused Everton of backing out of a gentleman's agreement for compensation - believed to be in the region of pounds 500,000 - for Kendall's move last month and issued a writ and legal proceedings on Friday against both Kendall and Everton.

At least Middlesbrough, resigned to losing Ravanelli, have something to celebrate after signing the former Spain captain Jose Maria Bakero. The 33-year-old midfielder, released by his Mexican club Vera Cruz on a free, could prove vital in helping Boro bounce straight back from Division One.