Agent provokes Palace fury

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The Independent Online

Wayne Routledge, Crystal Palace's England Under-21 winger, has rejected a new five-year, £12,000-a-week deal, sparking speculation that the club will be forced to sell him this month. Palace's chairman, Simon Jordan, reacted angrily to the news last night, taking a swipe at the apparent influence of Routledge's agent in the player's decision.

Wayne Routledge, Crystal Palace's England Under-21 winger, has rejected a new five-year, £12,000-a-week deal, sparking speculation that the club will be forced to sell him this month. Palace's chairman, Simon Jordan, reacted angrily to the news last night, taking a swipe at the apparent influence of Routledge's agent in the player's decision.

"We offered [Wayne] what was probably one of the most lucrative contracts that a teenage player can be offered," Jordan said of Routledge, who celebrated his 20th birthday five days ago. "We were told by Wayne's agent, Paul Stretford, that this player will not be signing for the club and it would not matter what we put in front of him, how much or when.

"The question is, how in God's name does an agent, whose primary motivation is his own game, succeed in achieving a divide between a player and a club that has had a boy for eight years and looked after him and his family? We've given Wayne every support and encouragement."

Routledge will be out of contract in the summer, meaning that Palace must sell during the transfer window or else see him leave for a nominal "development" fee at the end of the season.

Jordan has told Palace's manager, Iain Dowie, that he must sell if he wants to strengthen his squad, but Dowie had hoped Routledge would stay.

"Wayne has intimated to me that there won't be a positive response to the new deal," Dowie said. "But while he is here I will spend every day trying to get him to change his mind."

Dowie must now decide whether to sell Routledge, at a market price of up to £3m, and reinvest, or keep him for the relegation battle ahead but then lose him for a pittance. Tottenham are among those interested now.

Despite lack of funds, Palace could sign the Dynamo Moscow striker Dmitri Bulykin, who is on trial, on a free.

However, the Ecuadorian international striker, Ivan Kaviedes, has been released after failing to settle in south London.

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