Football: Robson poised to snatch Nadal

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The Independent Online
The roll call of exotic names at Middlesbrough is to be swelled by Miguel Angel Nadal, the Spanish international defender having been tempted to leave Barcelona for pounds 3.2m.

After weeks of negotiations the 30-year-old Nadal, nicknamed "The Beast", will fly into Teesside this week to discuss personal terms which include a pounds 1m a year salary. The Boro manager, Bryan Robson, is willing to invest heavily in the centre-back, despite problems with foreign imports like the Brazilian, Emerson.

Robson, however, will have to sell the club to Nadal as he had his heart set on joining Manchester United until they dropped their interest when he became ineligible for the final stages of the Champions' League.

Leeds United are also looking in Spain for a new recruit. Their manager, George Graham, spent the weekend in Madrid attempting to finalise a move for the striker Haim Revivo. The Celta Vigo forward would cost around pounds 2.5m.

Gerry Francis yesterday unveiled Ramon Vega as Tottenham's "Tony Adams". The 25-year-old Swiss defender completed his pounds 3.7m move from the Italian side Cagliari six months after rejecting Francis's advances in favour of a move to Serie A.

Francis refused to give up on Vega - born in Switzerland of Spanish parents - and with the Sardinian side suffering a cash crisis, he moved in again.

Vega's arrival on a four-and-a-half year contract follows the captures of Steffen Iversen and John Scales, taking the Spurs manager's spending in barely a month to more than pounds 9m.

"I've been criticised for not going out and spending money but the last month has shown we're ambitious and we want to do it," said Francis, who is convinced the versatile Vega will prove as successful at White Hart Lane as Adams has been at Highbury.

"I see Ramon as a Tony Adams type, a leader on the field, and I'm certain he is captaincy material," he said. "His experience in Italy means he has learned a great deal and with him in the side we have a number of options at the back.

"With Ramon we've got somebody who is very enthusiastic and wants to do well and win things, just as I do."

The Aston Villa midfielder Sasa Curcic has done an about- turn following his weekend outburst and apologised to his manager, Brian Little.

Villa's record signing was threatening to quit the club, unhappy at being out of the first team. The 24-year-old Serb described his decision to leave Bolton in a pounds 4m move in mid-August as "the biggest mistake of my life". However, Curcic has faxed a letter of regret to Little and is now hoping to find a "constructive and positive way forward".

His apology could now put him in the frame for Saturday's home game with Newcastle after an eight-match absence.

"I have received a faxed letter from Sasa apologising for his words," Little said. "He apologised for the distress he has caused and also apologised to the chairman, supporters and the club. It looks as though he realises that he did something wrong."

Dean Holdsworth has been given time off by Wimbledon to sort out his private life. The pounds 5m-rated striker has been the subject of lurid allegations by two teenage girls.

"Dean's family is more important than football," the Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, said. "When I spoke to him it was clear his mind was in turmoil. I have told him to take all the time he needs." Wimbledon play Bolton in the Coca-Cola Cup quarter-final at Burnden Park tonight.

The Southampton manager, Graeme Souness, is set to escape disciplinary action for his confrontation with the referee Graham Poll after his side's FA Cup exit at Reading. Souness felt the game should not have been played, but Poll has not reported him to the FA.