Allardyce risks £1.5m on Jardel's striking prowess

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce took the biggest gamble of his managerial life yesterday by signing the Brazilian Mario Jardel from Sporting Lisbon.

The Bolton Wanderers manager hailed the £1.5m transfer as one of the biggest in his club's history but the bargain deal comes after a season from hell for the 30-year-old.

Jardel complained of being depressed by Brazil's decision to leave him out of their World Cup squad and ended up being publicly blamed by Sporting for their poor season.

The flamboyant Brazilian had major personal problems, with his wife filing for divorce, as well as a late-night hotel incident when he was disciplined after being described as "visibly drunk" when restrained by security men.

His arrival at Bolton comes in time for the new season and he may even feature against Manchester United on Saturday, although the Brazilian is well short of match fitness. Allardyce has met him and is confident that he has recovered from his personal problems.

Allardyce - who received a further boost yesterday when Jay-Jay Okocha announced that he will henceforth only play in competitive matches for Nigeria - also thinks he has done a good deal because Jardel was rated at £5m only six months ago.

Atletico Madrid, Paris St-Germain and the Brazilian side, Santos, all took an interest but shied away for different reasons. Now the cost is within Bolton's reach, although his wages will stretch them.

Jardel comes with a proven pedigree. The Brazilian won the Golden Boot two years ago, scoring 42 goals as Sporting secured the title. Before joining Sporting, he wore the colours of Porto and scored 150 goals in 146 games. Though he was born in Brazil, he has a Portuguese passport, so a work permit is not required.

However, the Wanderers chairman, Phil Gartside, will not give Allardyce any money for a further signing, which leaves him short of three or four players to keep his squad at the size he wants.

There is no doubt that Jardel has a tremendous scoring record down the years at Sporting, and also in Turkey with Galatasaray, but in his last campaign he scored only 11 goals, his poorest return for almost a decade. But Allardyce is confident of the worth of his signing.

"His goals-to-game ratio is second to none anywhere in the world. We have found a striker who is going to score on a regular basis. I am looking forward to seeing him link up with the rest of the players."

Jardel admits he is looking to revive his career in England. "This is the opportunity I need to resurrect my career," he said. "I want to become a hero in Bolton and a success in the Premier League. I have always wanted to play in England. I consider it the best league in the world."