Press Watch: Chelsea 'ready to spend £50m during transfer window by signing Ferdinand and Nedved'

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The Independent Football

Rio Ferdinand scores a remarkable hat-trick by dominating three back pages among the Sunday tabloids - with three different stories.

While the News of the World adds another splash of revelations to their "Riogate" missed drugs test dossier, the Sunday Mirror goes big on Sir Alex Ferguson heaping praise on the England defender for his performance against Leeds - and the Mail on Sunday thinks they know why Fergie is so keen to butter up his troubled centre-half.

According to the Mail's story, Chelsea are ready to make a £20m swoop for Ferdinand in the January transfer window despite the threat of a ban from playing. The Mail says Ferguson will urge the Manchester United board to resist the offer but reckons Ferdinand is keen to return to London and team up with his friend Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge.

The People and the News of the World, meanwhile, reckon Chelsea have also tabled a bid of around £28 to £30m for the Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved, but cannot agree on whether the Czech wants to go, despite each quoting him directly.

"I intend to finish my career at Juventus," he tells the News of the World. "However, in football you can never say never." That's not quite how the People heard him, it seems. According to their source, Nedved says: "I am very happy with Juventus and I have no need to say you'll never know, as I want to end my career with Juve." Something lost in translation, perhaps...

Away from Chelsea's big spending plans, the Mirror says the Newcastle chairman, Freddy Shepherd, was in Spain on Saturday evening to advance negotiations aimed at taking Patrick Kluivert to St James' Park, and reckons Sheffield United have told Aston Villa to forget about £4m-rated Phil Jagielka as a potential replacement for Alpay Ozalan.

The Express believes Middlesbrough want the Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, said to be unhappy at Claudio Ranieri's squad rotation at Stamford Bridge, while the People reveals that Dwight Yorke is heading out of Ewood Park after failing to impress the Blackburn manager, Graeme Souness, with his form this season. Yorke is said to have slipped behind Matt Jansen, Corrado Grabbi and even the youngster Paul Gallagher in the Rovers' pecking order.

Mart Poom, the Sunderland goalkeeper, is reckoned by the News of the World to be a target for Southampton as cover for Antti Niemi, while the Mirror says Gordon Strachan's current back-up keeper, Paul Jones, who will leave St Mary's in January, may rejoin his old Saints manager Dave Jones at Wolves.

Both the Mirror and the News of the World run with the PSV Eindhoven striker Mateja Kezman's "come and get me" plea to Arsenal. The People says Liverpool are considering a move for Brentford's 22-year-old Senegal centre-back, Ibrahima Sonko, while offloading Djimi Traoré to Marseilles for £500,000, and also suggests that the Everton manager, David Moyes, has made the Stoke winger Kris Commons his main transfer target.

Wimbledon's 19-year-old captain, Nigel Reo-Coker, is interesting Fulham, Everton, Birmingham and Leeds, according to the News of the World.

Who's next to be Millwall manager? According to the People, Ray Wilkins, currently working alongside temporary player-manager Dennis Wise, is favourite to be offered the job. The Mirror, however, reports that Millwall fans want Joe Kinnear to take charge.

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