Nicolas Anelka's full-time move to Liverpool is on the brink of collapse because of his personal demands.
The French striker has played a large part in his side's challenge for the Premiership title during his loan spell from Paris St-Germain, but the chance of the move becoming permanent looks slim.
The former Arsenal forward, whose career was in decline before Gérard Houllier took him for the season, is asking – through his advisers who are headed by his brothers – for £60,000 a week. There is also a signing-on fee of around £1.5m to go on top of the transfer paid to PSG, which is around £12m.
If Anelka secured a four-year contract that would be worth £13m in wages alone, making the total cost of the deal £26.5m. Sources inside Liverpool suggest that would force them to pull out.
An alternative for Liverpool would be Auxerre's Djibril Cissé, who is younger and would demand lower wages, but Liverpool scouts are compiling a list of alternatives.
Houllier was in some doubt yesterday that he would be able to hang on to Anelka, saying: "His arrival has been a good thing for us, for him and the other strikers in the team as well. We would like to keep him with us but we will see; there is the club, the player and the various interests of everyone to consider."
Houllier and his assistant, Phil Thompson, have been jointly awarded the Barclaycard Manager of the Month award for the second time this season. The pair, who also picked up the award in November, received it again for performances in March that saw Liverpool win an impressive five games out of five, beating Fulham, Newcastle United, Middlesbrough, Chelsea and Charlton Athletic.
The Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp was given the Player of the Month award.
Fulham's Lee Clark has been told to forget about making a comeback this season and to focus on recovering from his Achilles and calf injuries in time for the start of next season.
The combative midfielder is seeking specialist opinions on his lower leg. He sustained an Achilles injury against Charlton on Boxing Day, and then a calf problem in his return game against Liverpool on 2 March.
He had hoped to return for next Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea – but the Cottagers' physio, Jason Palmer, has now ruled him out until the summer.
The efforts to reach a compromise between the English Football League and ITV Digital over a disputed rights deal were deadlocked yesterday as the owners of the pay-per-view TV company refused to talk.
Granada and Carlton Communications want to distance themselves from the dispute as much as possible since their venture – ITV Digital – called in the administrators last week after failing to renegotiate a contract to broadcast league matches, sources said.
"The deal was strictly between the Football League and ITV Digital," one source close to the ITV owners said, stressing the contract had no shareholder payment guarantee. "I don't see talks between the shareholders and the league taking place. It is just not going to happen."Reuse content