Italy's players poised to follow Spain and start season on strike

Italy's Serie A moved closer to a strike yesterday after the top-flight clubs voted 18-2 against adopting a collective contract signed by the players, increasing the possibility that Saturday's planned start of the season will be delayed.

The clubs are standing firm in their desire to make two changes to the text. Firstly, club officials want to change the wording so that coaches can force unwanted players to train away from the first team; secondly they want an addition stating that players will pay a new solidarity tax that applies to high-wage earners.

"The text signed by the players' association can't be signed if those two points are not integrated," said Serie A president Maurizio Beretta.

The players announced earlier this month that they will strike if a new collective contract is not signed before the season opens.

Cagliari and Siena were the two clubs that voted in favour of the contract. After the vote, the Italian football federation postponed a potentially decisive meeting until today. "At the moment the conditions are not right to play," players' association president Damiano Tommasi said. "The league's requests are [being used as an excuse]. The federation meeting was postponed but I don't see what could change."

The conflict between the players and the league has been ongoing since the last collective contract expired in June 2010. The players set two strike dates during the first half of last season, both of which were avoided with last-minute verbal agreements.

Serie A is due to start with Fiorentina at Siena in a Tuscan derby and defending champions Milan at Cagliari.

A strike by Spanish club players has already wiped out the opening weekend of La Liga.

While there have been numerous other threats over the years, the only time Serie A players went on strike was in March 1996. Among the issues then was the Bosman ruling, which established the right of players to switch clubs freely once their contracts expired, and found that the strict limits on foreigners were illegal.

Roma coach Luis Enrique, meanwhile, insists Manchester City target Daniele De Rossi wants to remain at the club. The Italy international has yet to extend his contract with the Serie A club, with his current deal ending next summer.

City manager Roberto Mancini reportedly described De Rossi as "absolutely perfect" for his club although he too expects the midfielder to remain in Rome next season.

"Daniele's contract expires next year and he is in negotiations to extend it," said Luis Enrique. "He wants to remain and the club wants to keep him and I can only speak highly of him. The two sides must find an agreement."

De Rossi, 28, has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League in recent months with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea among the clubs reportedly keen to acquire his services.

In Spain, Atletico Madrid have given Uruguay striker Diego Forlan permission to negotiate a possible transfer. The 32-year-old dropped out of Atletico's squad just before they flew to Portugal for today's Europa League qualifier against Vitoria Guimaraes, and Spanish media have linked him with interest from Internazionale.

"Forlan asked [coach Gregorio] Manzano this morning not to travel to Guimaraes because he was studying the possibility of signing for another team," an Atletico statement said. "Manzano authorised him to stay in Madrid because Atletico have a lot at stake and need players who are 100 per cent committed."

Forlan, a two-time European Golden Shoe winner, was voted best player of the World Cup finals in South Africa last year.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich will not add to their squad in the current transfer window despite a hip injury to forward Ivica Olic which has sidelined the Croatian international for six to eight weeks.

Olic partially tore a tendon in his hip while scoring the last goal in the 5-0 victory over Hamburg SV on Saturday. It was only his second game back following a nine-month injury lay off.

Winger Arjen Robben also picked up a minor groin injury in Tuesday's Champions League play-off at FC Zurich but is expected to be back fit in a few days. "I have full confidence in the existing squad. Also our medical department is convinced that Olic will return to the team in the near future," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said.

Bayern qualified for the Champions League group stages with a 1-0 win in Zurich, securing estimated revenues of about €20m (£17.5m) and sparking speculation they could add another striker to fill the gap left by Olic's injury.

Last season's Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez and Nils Petersen are their only out-and-out forwards with Thomas Müller also an option in attack. "We all, the board, sports director and coach are certain we can meet our targets with the existing team," said Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

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