Juve beat United to £25m Thuram

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Manchester United have lost out to Juventus in the race to sign Lilian Thuram ­ who yesterday became the most expensive defender in history.

The French international signed for Juventus in a £25m deal after choosing them ahead of their Serie A rivals Lazio. United had been keen on Thuram for weeks, but refused to match Parma's valuation or the player's personal terms.

The United board were reluctant to pay out because Thuram is 29 and the deal would have cost around £43m over four years. Thuram, who can play at right-back and in central defence, is likely to earn £4.5m a season and will be joining his international colleagues David Trézéguet and Zinedine Zidane at the Stadio Delle Alpi. Juventus are also expected to bring back their former coach Marcello Lippi as a replacement for the outgoing Carlo Ancelotti.

The United striker Dwight Yorke wants to stay at Old Trafford, his agent said yesterday. The Trinidadian scored 10 goals last season, and his place is seen as being under threat following the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy. However, yesterday his agent, Tony Stephens, said: "Dwight Yorke has no intention of leaving Manchester United."

John Arne Riise, Monaco's 20-year-old Norwegian international, has signed a five-year contract with Liverpool, although the transfer had not been finalised last night. Riise has agreed personal terms and passed a medical, but the clubs have yet to agree on a fee.

A regular member of the 1999-2000 title-winning Monaco side, Riise fell out of favour with the club's coach, Claude Puel, after saying he wanted to leave.

Blackburn Rovers have signed the Italian forward Corrado Grabbi for £7m. The 25-year-old Ternana's striker has signed a four-year deal.

The Leeds United striker Alan Smith has been suspended for two games by Uefa, the game's European governing body, following his sending off during the Champions' League semi-final, second leg against Valencia last month. The England international was dismissed for a late tackle in the dying minutes of Leeds' 3-0 defeat by the Spanish side.

Coventry City have turned down a £1m offer from Leicester City for their Welsh international striker John Hartson. The First Division club's chairman, Bryan Richardson, said: "We did receive a £1m offer from Leicester, who were also prepared to take on our commitments with his former club Wimbledon. But considering what they offered, I took it as a joke."

Richardson did confirm that the Swedish goalkeeper Magnus Hedman is on the verge of leaving Highfield Road.

Everton are ready to sign Rocar Bucharest's Daniel Prodan on a free transfer. The Romanian centre-half is expected to travel to Merseyside to discuss terms and undergo a medical soon. Prodan has recovered from a knee injury that wrecked his spell at Rangers, where he played under the Everton manager, Walter Smith.

Everton also have an interest in Celtic's Alan Stubbs, although the Liverpool-born defender is in talks with the Scottish club about a new deal.

The midfielder Lee Clark is ready to pledge his future to Fulham and end chances of a move to Newcastle United or Manchester City.

Hull City are in talks with the veteran winger Peter Beagrie. The former Everton and Manchester City player is a free agent after leaving Bradford.

Birmingham City have signed the Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Nico Vaesen for an undisclosed fee. The 31-year-old turned down a new contract at the McAlpine Stadium

Norwich City have agreed a £500,000 with Crewe for striker Mark Rivers.

Hibernian unveiled the Ecuador international wing-back Ulises de la Cruz yesterday. The Edinburgh side paid Liga Deportiva Universitaria a club record £700,000, eclipsing the £425,000 they paid for Celtic's Pat McGinley in 1994.

The Hibs manager, Alex McLeish`, spotted De la Cruz on television when he saw the defender score in a World Cup tie against Brazil and went to Ecuador to watch him against Peru before moving for the 42-times capped player. The 27-year-old has signed a four-year deal.

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