Hammers set to nail Pierini deal

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The Independent Online

West Ham's manager, Glenn Roeder, is ready to dip into his share of the Hammers' £29m war-chest following the sale of Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand with a move for the Italian international defender Alessandro Pierini from Fiorentina.

The Florence side have confirmed that a fee of £4.5m has been agreed with West Ham for the 28-year-old centre-back, who made his debut for the Azzurri last season under Giovanni Trapattoni, his former coach at Fiorentina. Pierini is currently in London finalising personal terms and preparing to undergo a medical.

The Serie A club have been forced to sell the player because of financial problems which see them in front of the Italian High Court in September under the threat of bankruptcy. Portugal's Rui Costa and the goalkeeper Francesco Toldo have already been offloaded as La Viola attempt to cut their wage bill.

Michael Ball has admitted he has his heart set on a move to Rangers, whether or not he gets the blessing of the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson.

The Everton full-back said earlier this week he had reservations about moving north to play in the Scottish Premier League after only recently receiving his first senior cap from the England coach. But after travelling to Ibrox and agreeing personal terms for the £6.5m transfer, Ball said: "Everything has been agreed and now it's just a matter of getting the medical done. I haven't spoken to Sven about it and it doesn't really matter because my mind is already made up."

Rangers' manager, Dick Advocaat, believes playing in Scotland will not harm Ball's international prospects. "I think players who had played in England and started playing in Scotland realise how difficult the Scottish League is," he said. "Ask [Chris] Sutton. Most of the competition is more difficult than in England."

Frank Leboeuf has hit out at Premiership players' lack of appreciation for his achievements following his move to his native Marseille. The centre-back, who ended his five-year tenure with the west London club last month, said: "I've got the impression that in England nobody cares that France are world and European champions. When I used to play alongside players who had great records I had a lot of respect for them."

The French centre-back also spoke of his problem adjusting to life in the capital. "It took me some time to accept my exile in London," he said. "When you end up recording crickets singing on tape and listening to that tape over and over again, it certainly shows that something is missing."

The Brazilian striker Mario Jardel's move back to Porto from Galatasaray after one year in Turkey has collapsed. Porto claimed the Turkish club had gone back on an agreement involving the transfer of two Porto players and the loan of another in exchange for Jardel.

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