Press Watch: Manchester United to strengthen attack with Viduka loan signing and £8m capture of Fulham's Saha
Monday 08 December 2003
Manchester United, who famously signed Eric Cantona from Leeds United 11 years ago, are ready to make another cut-price offer for one of their stricken rivals' stars - the striker Mark Viduka. And the Sunday Express believes that Sir Alex Ferguson, who paid £1.2m for Cantona, can sign Viduka for nothing.
The paper claims Ferguson had been prepared to pay £5m for the Australian during the transfer window in January, but now thinks Leeds, struggling to survive with debts of£80m, will let the unsettled player leave on loan, provided Manchester United pick up his £65,000-a-week wages.
The Sunday People also believes Ferguson intends to sign a striker in January, but its intelligence has not turned up Viduka's name as a target. Instead, according to its report, Ferguson hopes to sign either Fulham's Louis Saha or West Ham United's Jermain Defoe. Of the two, it claims Saha is the more appealing at £8m after West Ham insisted that they would not accept less than £12m for Defoe.
The Sunday Express says Leeds are also drawing attention from Newcastle United, who are reported to be planning to make a £3mmove for the striker Alan Smith. The same paper says Newcastle could lose out to Arsenal in their attempt to sign the Republic of Ireland full-back Stephen Carr from Tottenham Hotspur, suggesting that the Gunners might be able to persuade Carr to see out his contract at White Hart Lane and then move to Highbury on a free transfer next summer.
More gloom for Leeds is forecast by the Sunday Mirror, which reports that Birmingham City are ready to step in for Jermaine Pennant, who scored Leeds' goal against Chelsea on Saturtday, if the Elland Road club cannot afford to turn the Arsenal winger's successful loan move into a permanent deal.
The Sunday Mirror also says that Manchester City plan to spend £8m on the Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt and Bolton Wanderers' Finnish goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen. However, it quotes the City chairman, John Wardle, as insisting that the striker Nicolas Anelka, reported last week to be attracting the interest of United, is not about to be sold.
Middlesbrough's need to sign a new striker has raised Brazilian Rivaldo as a possible target after he was released by Milan following his unsuccessful spell in Italy. The News of the World believes that the 31-year-old, who is also said to be interesting Espanyol, could be one of two new forwards at the Riverside. The paper claims that Boro have already had a bid for Chelsea's Eidur Gudjohnsen turned down and that the club are also interested in the Leeds pair Mark Viduka and Alan Smith.
After being told by Wolverhampton Wanderers that he will not be offered a deal, Paul Gascoigne could turn to Bradford City, according to the News of the World, which says that the new City manager, Bryan Robson, sees Gazza as the man to put bums on seats at Valley Parade.
The Sunday Mirror says Portsmouth are set to complete the signing of the former Romanian World Cup player Adrian Ilie on a free transfer and it also believes Manchester United and Liverpool have joined the clubs interested in the Huddersfield prospect Jonathan Stead.
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