Football: Schmeichel interests Espanyol

THE SPANISH club Espanyol are interested in signing the Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, the club coach said yesterday. "He's one of six options I'm shuffling." said Miguel Angel Brindisi, the coach of the Barcelona club.

Schmeichel said last year he was leaving United at the end of this season and planned to return to his native Denmark. But the Danish international has also said he would consider joining a club in a warmer country if the offer was good.

Brindisi added: "I like Schmeichel a lot. He has a great name but, with it, comes a big investment. And that might be pushing our budget."

The Valencia coach, Claudio Ranieri, accused two of his players yesterday of behaving like children. Ranieri had been forced to intervene in a public battle between his Spanish international goalkeeper Santiago Canizares and the Yugoslav defender Miroslav Djukic. Both had publicly accused each other for being at fault for one of Raul's goals in Real Madrid's 3-1 defeat of Valencia on Sunday. "This is the sort of thing that goes on between children, not men," Ranieri added.

The pair almost came to blows on the pitch and the row continued with various comments to Spanish journalists in the days after the match.

There has been no love lost between the two for months. Canizares had also blamed Djukic for additional defensive errors which have led to three other goals.

"His attitude makes me so angry," Djukic retorted. "I was not laughing when he let in a bad goal against Extremadura."

Following his coach's promptings, Canizares apologised to his team-mates yesterday. "I'll do my best to mend things," the goalkeeper said.

However, Djukic has yet to accept the olive branch. Ranieri said that he had not fined either player so far. "The best thing they can do is get themselves together and win against Celta on Sunday," Ranieri added.

Valencia are fourth the Primera Liga and are in contention for a place in next season's Champions' League.

Roberto Carlos, the roving Real Madrid full-back, is in a contract dispute with the club. The Brazilian World Cup player and his agent have disagreed with the club over his contract's buy-out clause.

Roberto, best known for an astonishing goal from a free-kick at Le Tournoi in 1997, and his agent believes the buy-out figure is only $15m ((pounds 9.3m) while the club president, Lorenzo Sanz, insists it is $100m. The Brazilian international, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the club this season, is widely expected to leave Real Madrid this summer. Several Italian sides, including Internazionale, are believed to be interested in signing the Brazilian, who still has another year remaining of his Real Madrid contract.

Marius Lacatus, Steaua Bucharest's veteran Romanian international, faces a ban of at least six months for a crude tackle which left an opponent with a double fracture of the right leg. Lacatus's challenge on defender Vasile Ardeleanu came early in Steaua Bucharest's 2-1 league win over FCM Bacau on Tuesday. He was sent off.

"Ardeleanu's recovery will probably take more than six months," a hospital spokesman said yesterday. "His ligaments have also been broken." Romanian football federation rules mean the 35-year-old striker, capped 75 times by Romania, will be banned for the entire period of Ardeleanu's recovery.

The veteran Austrian striker Toni Polster said yesterday he planned to leave troubled Borussia Monchengladbach at the end of the season. "My relations with Rainer Bonhof are such that I don't see any point in continuing to work under him as coach," said Polster, who has frequently been left on the bench recently.

Polster, who joined Monchengladbach at the start of the season from relegated Cologne, has a contract running until 2000. Monchengladbach are last in Germany's Bundesliga and have lost almost all hope of remaining in the top flight.

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