Souness is keen to move for Karpin

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The Independent Football

Blackburn Rovers are trying to intercept Valeri Karpin's move to Rangers.

Celta Vigo's hard-tackling Russian international midfielder is due to move to Ibrox in the summer on a free transfer when his contract runs out. However, Rovers' manager, Graeme Souness, is keen to take Karpin to Blackburn on a similar basis in the summer.

The 33-year-old has a fiery reputation in Spain, but is an excellent player who would fit in well at Blackburn, where he would also be offered high wages and the chance to play in the Uefa Cup. Rangers, though, are well down the road with the deal themselves and have applied for a work permit.

In Cairo, the tone for what is likely to be the bitterest campaign yet fought for the presidency of the game's world governing body, Fifa, was set within hours of Issa Hayatou declaring his candidacy this weekend.

The 55-year-old Cameroonian, president of the Confederation of African Football, launched his campaign on Saturday to become the first man for 28 years to challenge the sitting president for football's top job. He would become Fifa's first African president if he won the election at the Fifa Congress in Seoul on 29 May.

He will face a tough battle against the 66-year-old Sepp Blatter, elected president four years ago when he beat Lennart Johansson, the president of European football's governing body, Uefa. The opening shot was fired by Johansson in response to Blatter's remarks on Friday when he suggested that Europe could lose seats on Fifa's executive committee, could lose future World Cup places and that the British associations could lose the special status guaranteeing them an automatic vice-presidency of Fifa.

"When I heard what he said about Europe I could not believe it," Johansson said. "Every country in Europe must be asking: 'What is going on?' How can he say that without discussing it? Without having informed me as Uefa president? I do not understand him. I think he must be a very worried and nervous man. If he expects votes from Europe he should not make such statements."