Football: United's Brazilian deal runs aground

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Manchester United's quest to sign the Brazilian centre-back Celio Silva is on the brink of collapse because of work permit problems. United's application for the 29-year-old is being queried because of his small number of senior caps for his country - he is a late arrival on the international scene.

As holders, Brazil are not playing World Cup qualifiers and Celio Silva managed just one cap in the recent Copa America. He has also been omitted from the squad for forthcoming friendlies.

Alex Ferguson, United's manager, admitted last night: "Celio has only six international caps, so that is a worry for us. It is a concern but we can only wait and see what happens this week." He has already started work on alternatives, with the Chilean international Dante Poli arriving on trial. The pounds 2.4m-rated centre-back does not need a work permit as he has an Italian passport.

The need for at least one defender is increasing, with Gary Pallister injured and David May picking up a thigh strain in the friendly against Internazionale on Sunday.

United supporters will not see Ronaldo make his second appearance for Inter tomorrow, when the Italian club visit Old Trafford. The 20-year- old Brazilian striker, who made a 17-minute debut for Inter as they beat United on penalties at the San Siro on Sunday, will be rested from the return game.

Liverpool said yesterday that they had not made an offer for the German international striker Karlheinz Riedle - despite reports to the contrary from Borussia Dortmund. "There has been no bid made," an Anfield spokesman said.

Borussia Dortmund's sports director, Ottmar Hitzfeld, had said earlier that the European Cup winners were considering an offer from Liverpool. "We are in contact with Liverpool, and I expect a decision to be made this week," he said.

Riedle, whose contract with Dortmund runs until next year, played a key role in last May's European Cup final, scoring two goals to help his side beat Juventus 3-1. He has also been linked with the Italian Serie B side Perugia, the former club of Dortmund's new coach, Nevio Scala.

The Wimbledon midfielder Robbie Earle is facing a battle to be fit for the start of the new season after a knee injury. He could need an operation on the injury he picked up during the Dons' friendly defeat against the Norwegian national side last week.

Middlesbrough are giving trials to Tunisia's international goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel, 31, and a 20-year-old striker, Nicolas Escethn'zi, from the French club Gueugnon.

West Bromwich have sold the winger Kevin Donovan to Grimsby for pounds 300,000. His move to Blundell Park reunites him with the Mariners manager, Alan Buckley, who was sacked by Albion in January.

Celtic and Rangers escaped without punishment yesterday at a disciplinary hearing of the Scottish Football Association, which investigated scenes at the end of the final Old Firm game of last season, when spectators ran on to the pitch at Parkhead. After hearing the views of representatives of both clubs, the committee has decided to take no action.