Football: Silvestre deal under threat

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The Independent Online
GERARD HOULLIER'S hopes of snapping up Internazionale's brilliant young French defender, Michael Silvestre, look doomed to failure.

The new Liverpool manager has been trailing the player, who was in the French Under-20 squad he coached in 1997, and was hoping that he could take advantage of a dispute between the Italian club and Rennes, the French side.

Rennes have protested to football's world ruling body, Fifa, that Silvestre and his former club-mate Ousmane Dabo, who both left them under the Bosman ruling to join Inter in the summer, are still technically their players.

Houllier expects to hear the outcome of the Fifa verdict today. If Silvestre is deemed to still belong to Rennes, they will be happy to sell him for around pounds 3m. However, a spokesman for Inter said: "I think Rennes are not living in the land of reality. Both players a very happy here.

"If anybody wants to buy them they will have to talk to us, not Rennes. They would be expensive even if we wanted to let them go, and we don't."

Houllier has been scouring Europe searching for defensive reinforcements. Liverpool are also still awaiting the international clearance from the Turkish FA that will allow another French defender, Jean-Michel Ferri, to complete his pounds 1.7m move from Istanbulspor.

Steve McManaman has tried to quash speculation about his future by stressing his commitment to Liverpool.

The England winger has been surrounded by talk of a big move abroad when his contract runs out at the end of the season. Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been linked with McManaman, who could earn a lucrative free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

But McManaman has insisted he wants to help bring the glory days back to Anfield. He said: "People keep linking me with clubs - but the position is that I am under contract to Liverpool.

"It is the only club I've ever played for and I am still hoping we can sort out a deal for when my contract expires at the end of the season. I want to emulate those players I watched as a kid - Phil Neal, Phil Thompson and Graeme Souness - and win medals. Then I want to win them again and again."

Vinnie Jones, the former Wimbledon and Wales captain, is considering a move to Burnley, after being excluded from the first team at Queen's Park Rangers, where he was the assistant to the former manager Ray Harford.

Barcelona have signed a pre-contract with Fabio Capello to take over as the coach of the Catalan club next season, Spanish newspapers reported yesterday.

Capello, formerly in charge of Milan and Real Madrid, is reportedly being lined up to replace the current coach, Louis van Gaal, whose future has been jeopardised since the club were knocked out of the European Cup in the Champions' League stage for the second successive season.

South Africa have named Trott Moloto as their new national coach. The 42-year-old was the assistant to Philippe Troussier at the World Cup in France this year and has been the caretaker coach since the Frenchman's exit. Carlos Alberto Parreira, the former Brazil coach, turned down the job.

The former international referee Michael Zen-Ruffinen has taken over as the general secretary of Fifa. The 39-year-old Swiss national, who joined world football's governing body in 1986, succeeds his compatriot Sepp Blatter, who was elected Fifa president in June.