Anelka's cut in demands may be too late

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The Independent Online

Nicolas Anelka has agreed a £9m five-year contract with Liverpool, although his West Ham compatriot Freddie Kanouté is still a target.

The Liverpool manager, Gérard Houllier, is set to offer £9.5m for Kanouté today, while Anelka and his advisers have said they will settle for a deal worth £35,000 a week until the summer of 2007.

The French striker is prepared to move to Anfield for just over half of what was originally demanded, but that gesture may yet be too late as Houllier chooses between him and Kanouté. Anelka's change of bargaining stance has taken Houllier and Liverpool by surprise as they had lined up Kanouté on a four-year deal worth around £5m.

If West Ham continue to seek £15m for the former Lyon striker they could yet push Liverpool towards signing Anelka on his new cheaper terms. Paris St-Germain are willing to accept £12m, making the total cost of his Liverpool move around £21m. His previous demands made the final bill closer to £25m.

Sedan have confirmed there has been interest from Liverpool in their Senegal international, Salif Diao. Houllier watched the 25-year-old in action against Auxerre on 21 April.

"There has been contact with Liverpool but nothing concrete," the club's sporting director Jean-Marc Pellissier said. Diao recently said he was aware of interest from a number of European clubs, including Barcelona and Internazionale but said nothing would be resolved until after the World Cup.

He joined Sedan in 2000 from Monaco, where he won the French title. He is currently in Saudi Arabia preparing for tonight's friendly in Riyadh.

Internazionale are consider-ing a bid for Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg and Ashley Cole. The Inter president, Massimo Moratti, is reportedly ready to offer cash plus the Turkey midfielder Emre Belozoglu for Cole.

Sylvain Distin is turning his back on Newcastle United to sign for Manchester City in a dispute over £8,000-a-week. The French defender will join Kevin Keegan's City rather than the manager's old club Newcastle in a £4m switch from Paris St-Germain this week. The reason behind the Distin dispute is that he wanted £12,000-a-week after tax and was offered £12,000-a-week before tax.

City have also made a £4m move for Independiente's Argentinian striker Matias Vicente Vuoso.

Derby County's manager, John Gregory, is in talks with the Nigerian World Cup striker Yakubou Ayegbini to clear the way for the sale of Malcom Christie, probably to Middlesbrough for £6m. Officials from relegated Derby met with the African player's representatives yesterday and are close to agreeing a £4m deal for the 19-year-old Maccabi Haifa forward.

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