Football: Sforza the latest to say no to Everton

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The Independent Online
Ciriaco Sforza yesterday joined Fabrizio Ravanelli and Paul Ince in rejecting Everton, the Swiss international midfielder preferring to play his football next season with his former club Kaiserslautern.

Howard Kendall's pounds 3m offer had been accepted by Internazionale and the 27-year-old Sforza was expected at Goodison today to discuss personal terms. Kaiserslautern, however, matched Everton's offer and the player has signed a four-year deal worth pounds 15,000 a week.

Kendall, who had described Sforza's as "an outstanding player, a leader", missed out on his Inter team-mate Ince when he joined Liverpool and abandoned a pounds 7.5m move to sign Ravanelli when the striker demanded pounds 50,000 a week. Ravanelli will meet the Boro manager Bryan Robson today to explain why he has missed the first three weeks of pre-season training.

Les Ferdinand, another Kendall target, wants to remain at Newcastle United, despite their willingness to sell. "I have never said that I want to go. I would love to stay," the 30-year-old England striker, said. "Don't forget Alan Shearer and myself formed the most successful partnership in the Premiership last season. Why would I want to walk away from all that?"

Blackburn Rovers' will play the first month of the season without Tim Flowers while the England goalkeeper recovers from a hernia operation. Flowers' absence and the departure of Shay Given to Newcastle leaves Rovers with only the untried keeper John Filan to call on. There are other worries, too. Central defender Colin Hendry is still struggling for fitness and the full-back Henning Berg damaged ankle ligaments playing for Norway on Saturday.

Rovers have lost out on Matt Holmes, the 27-year-old midfielder who cost pounds 1.2m from West Ham United 19 months ago, having signed for Charlton Athletic for a bargain pounds 250,000.

David Hopkin, the Scottish midfielder whose goal took Crystal Palace into the Premiership, has finally signed for Leeds United for pounds 3.35m, leaving reluctant sellers Palace free to concentrate on completing the pounds 2.1m purchase of Juventus' Attilio Lombardo.

Ray Lewington, the Palace assistant manager fears the winger's pounds 600,000 a year wages risks dissatisfaction among the lesser-paid players, with little guarantee that he will repay the investment.

"He has a great reputation He's certainly been there, seen it, done it. It's an exciting prospect," Lewington said. "But it just worries me sometimes that we look for `names' now. He's going to cost a lot of money and his personal terms will far outweigh those on our own books. If he comes and does it then great. It's taking a great risk. If he's come for a big pay- day then it could backfire."

Dave Jones' first signing as the manager of Southampton could be the former Birmingham City player Jose Dominguez. Jones' offer of pounds 1.5m for the Portuguese winger has been accepted by Sporting Lisbon.

Leicester City have settled a fee with Crewe Alexandra for the Welsh midfielder Robbie Savage without needing a tribunal. They will pay pounds 400,000 down, plus a further pounds 250,000 after 100 appearances.

Brighton's new board are confident the Third Division club will survive a vote on Thursday to decide whether they should be expelled from the Football League.

They face an extraordinary general meeting of football league chairmen after failing to meet the original deadline on 20 June for a pounds 500,000 bond to secure their status.

The bond, which is also a guarantee that Brighton will return to Sussex in three years after a period of ground sharing, has now been lodged, and the issue facing the panel is whether the delay is sufficient grounds for expulsion.

"The delays were legal ones and beyond our control," Dick Knight, the Brighton chairman-elect, said.