Cash-rich Souness ponders bid for £10m Fowler

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The Independent Online

Graeme Souness is ready to launch an ambitious raid to sign Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler. The Blackburn Rovers manager, who was a fan of Fowler when he was in charge at Anfield, is about to pocket around £8.5m from the sales of the strikers Corrado Grabbi and Marcus Bent and Fowler tops his wish list ahead of the Turkish forward Hakan Sukur.

"Who would not like Robbie Fowler?" Souness said yesterday. "He's your 25-goals-a-season man. He would be the difference between finishing mid-table and challenging for a place in Europe.

"Hakan Sukur may not have a large transfer fee but you can take it from me that he's got a huge salary. What would that do to my dressing room?''

Souness is waiting for Napoli to finalise a bid for the unsettled Grabbi and received between £2m and £3m from Ipswich Town for Bent yesterday after the 23-year-old striker agreed a three-and-a-half year contract at Portman Road.

Liverpool want around £10m and Fowler would look for a £40,000-a-week salary, but Blackburn may now be in the position to meet those demands. Leeds and Lazio have shown interest in Fowler, but the bidding war has not yet started and Souness may be ready to compete with them.

England have not been made one of the top ten seeds for the 2004 European Championship qualifiers. They are one of the second seeds along with Scotland, but the Republic of Ireland are one of the top nations for the draw, which will take place in January.

Results in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup and the Euro 2000 finals formed the basis for the seeding system, meaning that England – who were placed 17th – paid the price of their poor points tally in needing a play-off to make it to Euro 2000.

Wales and Northern Ireland face a tougher task after being placed in the fourth seeding pot for a competition in which only the group winners will make it through automatically. Ten runners-up playing off for five remaining places.

The Russian football authorities have submitted an initial bid to host Euro 2008 after saying earlier in the week that they had given up on the idea because they had not received government guarantees.

The Manchester United striker, Danny Webber, is joining Port Vale on loan to help toughen him up for the Premiership. The England Under-19 international is the top scorer for United's reserves.

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