Abel Xavier set to switch to Liverpool

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The Independent Online

Abel Xavier is moving from Everton to Liverpool in a surprise deal in time to register for the Champions' League.

The Portuguese defender will join the Anfield squad today after a fee of £800,000 was agreed last night. He will sign a four-year deal.

Abel Xavier turned down a new contract at Everton recently and expressed a wish to play in European football. Liverpool seem set to be the club to make that dream come true.

The versatile defender, who plays right-back or centre-half, will give Liverpool cover for domestic and Champions' League games. He will be eligible for that event, assuming he signs before Thursday's deadline.

Dwight Yorke's move from Manchester United to Middlesbrough has stalled because of the striker's wage demands. A fee, reportedly £6.2m, has been agreed, but the Trinidad international, who earns about £24,000 per week at United, wants between £20,000 and £30,000 per week more to move.

Yorke, 30, will have to reduce his demands if he is going to join Boro. He may also have lost some of his allure because he is FA Cup-tied after playing the last 10 minutes of United's fourth-round defeat to Boro.

United hope to extend their lead at the top of the Premiership tonight when they entertain Bolton Wanderers, who yesterday sacked Djibril Diawara for disciplinary reasons, lining up Eric Rabesandratana as his replacement. Diawara, on a year's loan from Torino, was dismissed for being out until 4am before the FA Cup tie at Stockport, while the 29-year-old Frenchman Rabesandratana is leaving AEK Athens.

Bolton have also finalised a £500,000 deal with Marseilles for the on-loan Bruno N'Gotty and are on the verge of signing the Cannes midfielder Gérard Forschelet for a similar fee.

Sunderland have completed the signing of the Swedish international Joachim Bjorklund from the Italian side Venezia for a fee of £1.5m. The 30-year-old former Rangers and Valencia defender has agreed a four-year deal, but may not be cleared in time to play in tonight's North-East derby with Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light.

The French defender Laurent Charvet, who has been pushed out of Kevin Keegan's Manchester City squad, is talking to Marseilles about a free transfer. The Fulham manager, Jean Tigana, is trying to sign the French World Cup hopeful Johan Micoud from Parma on loan for the rest of the season.

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