Press Watch: Manchester United line-up £40m Rooney deal

Middlesbrough are keen on Kluivert and Birmingham can take their pick from Melchiot, Izzet or Gray
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The Independent Online

The summer silly season has begun in earnest in the tabloids.

The summer silly season has begun in earnest in the tabloids.

The People leads the way with an audacious "exclusive" revealing that Everton's Wayne Rooney is to join Manchester United after Euro 2004.

The paper reports that the deal will be worth £40m with as many as four players - including Nicky Butt and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - moving to Goodison Park as part of the deal.

The same paper is adamant that Barcelona's Patrick Kluivert is on his way to Middlesbrough. It reports that Barça are keen to remove the Dutch striker from their payrole, and that the Boro chairman, Steve Gibson, is prepared to match Kluivert's £90,000-a-week wages.

The News of the World believes Middlesbrough's No 1 target remains Leeds United's Alan Smith. But, the paper adds, with Smith increasingly likely to opt for an £8m move to Old Trafford instead, Boro are turning their attention to Solskjaer.

The Norwegian, according to the paper, will be surplus to Sir Alex Ferguson's plans at Manchester United once Smith arrives. The Sunday Mirror continues to link Smith with Newcastle, although they concede that Old Trafford is also his most likely destination.

Meanwhile, if the tabloids are to be believed, just about anyone who is out of contract is heading for Birmingham City.

The Sunday Mirror reports that Mario Melchiot, whose deal at Stamford Bridge has expired, has been offered a contract by the Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce.

Muzzy Izzet, recently released by Leicester City, is also on his way to St Andrew's, according to the News of the World. The paper believes that the midfielder is set to become the biggest earner at the club on £34,000-a-week. The People, clearly not wanting to miss out on the chance to link anyone and everyone with Birmingham City, reports that Julian Gray is about to join the Midlands club, after refusing to sign a new contract at Crystal Palace.

However, the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World cannot agree on whether Leeds' Danny Mills will also be on his way to Birmingham. The Mirror is convinced Bruce cannot afford the defender's wages, but the News of the World believes the Birimingham manager will be able to convince him to join.

The News of the World, meanwhile, reports that Alan Shearer is set to take on a new role as coach at Newcastle. The same paper reports that Valencia's coach Rafa Benitez has issued a "come and get me" plea to Liverpool.

Finally, the destination of Martin Keown has left all the tabloids confused. The Arsenal veteran, fresh from last week's testimonial, is on his way to Norwich City if the People is to believed. Which of course, the Sunday Mirror do not. They are convinced Keown is heading to Wolverhampton Wanderers, along with Arsenal forwards Jermaine Pennant and David Bentley But The News of the World reports that Keown's old club Everton are hoping to persuade him to return to Goodison Park. So that's all clear then.

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