Football: Reid ready to do the barter business: Derek Hodgson on the exchange and market forces at work among hard-up Premier League clubs seeking reinforcements

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER CITY, emerging as the dangerous dark horses of the Premier League, need one or two experienced, top-class players to blend with youngsters of quality to become a dominant force in the 1990s. But the chairman Peter Swales reiterated this week that his manager, Peter Reid, cannot buy again without recouping funds by selling.

When the market collapses and the money runs out, commerce has to continue by barter. Now, with few Premier League clubs having cash in hand, the annual new year stocktaking and replenishment will be done by exchange transfers. Money, in small amounts, will make up the balance.

Liverpool, despite protests from the club of 'speculation', seem to be the liveliest and likeliest negotiators. Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Manchester United, possibly Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough could actually buy a player.

Everton and Liverpool are among those who must trade, a situation made more difficult by the wage structures of the Merseyside neighbours, a successful past aggravating a penurious present. The No 1 prize is Roy Keane of Forest. All credit to Keane in that he has offered to sign a new contract but one that permits him to leave if Forest are relegated, a likely development after Christmas fixtures which left Forest five points adrift at the foot of the table.

More immediate moves link Liverpool with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. Peter Robinson, the Liverpool chief executive, denied yesterday that Mark Wright had already been involved in discussions with Spurs. An offer of Gordon Durie, plus cash, might interest Graeme Souness as Wright is surely attracting Terry Venables.

City were keen to recruit Paul Stewart last summer, when the former Maine Road player left Spurs for Liverpool, and Reid is an open admirer of Ian Rush. 'A quality goal by a quality player,' was how Reid described Rush's equaliser against City on Monday. Rush and Stewart would obviously strengthen City's ambitions but how could they afford the pair?

City have interesting younger players, the Brightwell brothers, Sheron and Flitcroft, but Souness is much more likely to want the players Reid regards as the untouchables, Quinn, White and Coton.

City's search for reinforcements will have intensified after the news yesterday that Andy Hill, the full- back converted successfully into a central defender, has been playing with a groin strain and will now have to be rested from Saturday's FA Cup tie against Reading.

Arsenal's defeat at Aston Villa on Monday means that they, along with Leeds and Spurs, have to think of winning either the FA Cup or the Coca-Cola Cup as a means of saving the season and while the Clock End will be clamouring for a midfielder, George Graham might be taking another look at the defence. The return of Tony Adams and Lee Dixon ought to restore the equilibrium but Graham could be watching for a quick, young central defender.

One club seeking a way through financial difficulty are Brighton and Hove Albion. The chairman, Greg Stanley, is negotiating with a finance company to mortgage the Goldstone Ground. Brighton are facing a winding-up order and owe the Inland Revenue pounds 400,000.

Bolton Wanderers expect to take record receipts from a capacity 22,000 crowd watching their FA Cup tie against Liverpool at Burnden Park on Sunday. Their share of pounds 150,000 plus will help towards the pounds 200,000 Southampton are seeking as a deposit on the permanent transfer of Dave Lee, the former Bury winger, which should be completed this week. Lee, signed for pounds 350,000 by Southampton 18 months ago, has been on loan to Bolton for two months.

Portsmouth, despairing of getting a goalkeeper on loan who might become cup-tied - they asked Chelsea for Dave Beasant - found the lack of cash working in their favour. They signed Brian Horne, a former England Under-21 keeper who is now 25, from Millwall on a free transfer.