Albion reject £8.5m bid for defender Davies from Portsmouth

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The Independent Online

Portsmouth have had a club record bid of £8.5m for Curtis Davies rejected by West Bromwich Albion. The Championship club are believed to be holding out for £10m for the 21-year-old defender.

West Brom have already turned down bids from Tottenham Hotspur, the last thought to be around £5m, for Davies who they signed at the start of last season from Luton Town for £3m. Davies, an England Under-21 international, is also high on Arsenal's wanted list although the manager, Arsène Wenger, is likely to balk at the apparent asking price.

"Curtis Davies I like," Wenger said yesterday. "I have not made an inquiry or a bid but I like the player. I will not be making a bid as high as £10m or £12m."

Wenger is, nevertheless, keen to sign another defender following the departure of Sol Campbell and injury to Philippe Senderos, who will be out for three months with his dislocated shoulder. "If we find a player who can play centre-back [and] left-back then we are still open [for transfers]," Wenger said. He has looked at taking Lilian Thuram from Juventus but it is likelythe 34-year-old will try and secure a move to Barcelona.

Campbell had interested Portsmouth, but he is not keen on moving to the South Coast club and his wage demands are high. Instead, Portsmouth have turned to Davies although they are also closely monitoring Sylvain Distin's contract negotiations at Manchester City and Robert Huth's on/off move to Middlesbrough which may be revived even though the German international failed a medical last week.

City may also face a fight to keep Micah Richards who is wanted by Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs - who have already had an informal £5m bid rejected. The powerful 18-year-old defender has been unsettled by speculation over his future and although City are attempting to tie him down with a new contract, it is believed that Richards wants to examine all his options.

He has two years on his contract still to run and Oldham Athletic revealed yesterday that City had attempted to buy out for a "six-figure" sum a sell-on clause entitling the League One club, where Richards started his career, to a percentage of any eventual fee. "Our polite reply was, 'Thanks but no thanks'," Oldham said yesterday.

Davies's future is also complicated especially as West Brom appear determined to hold out for their asking price. Portsmouth are considering increasing their offer and also remain keen on Zoltan Gera, another Albion player, who had a transfer request rejected last Friday. A double deal remains possible.

Portsmouth, who have transfer funds of around £30m thanks to Sasha Gaydamak who is in the process of becoming the club's sole owner, have found landing their targets frustrating.

They remain interested in the Fenerbahce striker Nicolas Anelka, who may arrive on loan, and are trying again for Celtic's Stilian Petrov after having a £3.5m offer rejected. They have bid of more than £8m for Benfica midfielder Manuel Fernandes. Again they may have to offer nearer £10m to secure the 21-year-old.

* Arsenal have confirmed that Cesc Fabregas will this season wear the No 4 shirt which used to belong to Patrick Vieira and was unused in 2005-06 following the Frenchman's move to Juventus.

* Manchester United have finalised a £660m debt refinancing that cuts their annual interest bill and strengthens the Glazer family's grip on the club. As part of the deal, United have halved to £135m the amount they owe in payment-in-kind notes. The refinancing - 14 months after Malcolm Glazer took control - is said to reflect United's improving financial projects.

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