Lowe fumes as Richards joins Tottenham

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The Independent Online

Any hopes that the ill feeling between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur might die down following Dean Richards' move to White Hart Lane evaporated soon after the completion of the £8.1m deal yesterday.

Rupert Lowe, the Saints chairman, having concluded the transfer of his team's outstanding defender, described negotiations with Spurs as "vexatious and tortuous". An indication of the bitterness between the two clubs came with the revelation that Dave Richards, the Premier League chairman, had to mediate in the transfer negotiations.

Lowe, who fell out with Tottenham earlier this year after the London club poached his manager, Glenn Hoddle, revealed that the decisive breakthrough in the Richards move came when the player waived his contractual entitlement to any share of the fee.

Lowe was strongly critical of Richards after the deal was signed. He said: "I've done my best to keep the player at St Mary's over the last few weeks, but it has become increasingly clear that, despite the support of the dressing-room and our magnificent new stadium, Dean's heart and mind are elsewhere.

"This is a great disappointment to me, and I suspect it will be a slap in the face to our fans who have voted Dean player of the year and raised him to icon status."

The Manchester City manager, Kevin Keegan, made a £2.5m bid for St-Etienne's Cameroon centre-half Lucien Mettomo last night. Keegan put in his offer, based on cash up front plus installments, and hopes the hard-up French Second Division side will accept over the weekend. St-Etienne wanted £4.5m for Mettomo, but the player has now expressed a desire to go to Maine Road.

Mettomo would also be an obvious replacement for Richard Dunne, who was fined two week's wages, around £20,000, at the start of the week for missing training.

Blackburn Rovers have moved to sign Nuremberg's Czech Republic defender, Marek Nikl. The 25-year-old can play left-back or in the centre of defence. Rovers have offered £1.5m, though there could be a problem over a work permit as he has played only five times for his country since his first cap two years ago.

Antonio Benarrivo is poised to move to Middlesbrough. The veteran Parma full-back was in Teesside for talks with the Premiership club yesterday.

Milan have confirmed the signing of Vitali Kutuzov from their Uefa Cup opponents, BATE Borisov. The Italians have recruited the 21-year-old, who stood out among his colleagues as they went down 2-0 in Thursday night's first leg match in Minsk, for a fee of £3.2m.

Hull City have completed the signing of the Sunderland striker, Michael Reddy, on a month's loan.

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