'Bullying' Savage accused over Birmingham transfer

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The Independent Football

Birmingham City have responded to Robbie Savage's written transfer request by rejecting a second offer from Blackburn Rovers and accusing the midfielder of attempting to bully them into a sale.

Blackburn improved on the £2m fee rejected by Birmingham's chief executive, Karren Brady, at the weekend, although it does not match the £3.5m valuation placed on Savage at St Andrew's.

It is a general rule of thumb that an unhappy footballer will always secure a move, and although Birmingham may be resigned to his demand to go a mere three months after signing a four-year contract, they are determined to exact as great a price as possible. Anything near £3m would secure his transfer to Ewood Park and a reunion with Mark Hughes, his former manager at Wales.

"Birmingham City feels it is being backed into a corner," the club said in a statement yesterday, "and will not under any circumstances be bullied into making a decision detrimental to the team." Savage was dropped from last night's Premiership fixture with Bolton.

Savage's ostensible reason for forcing a move from Birmingham to Blackburn is to be near his parents in Wrexham - and especially his ill mother. However, according to the RAC, he would save precisely five minutes' driving from Ewood Park to Wrexham compared to a similar journey from St Andrew's. Should he break the ingrained habit of a professional footballer and travel by train, it would take an hour longer between Blackburn and Wrexham and Savage would have to change three times.

Brady made the same point. "We are all surprised and disappointed by the news of Robbie's transfer request, especially as it seems he wants to swap Birmingham for Blackburn, which I cannot understand," she said. "If Robbie has come to that decision because of the distance between Blackburn and Wrexham, he should take a look on his map."

A move to Everton, most of whose players live on the Wirral and Deeside, would make more geographical sense. Everton had a bid for the midfielder - which Brady described as "laughable" - rejected in the summer but now have considerably more funds at their disposal. However, although the Everton manager, David Moyes, is a known admirer of Savage, no offer has yet been made.

Birmingham made a signing of their own yesterday, paying Burnley £1.5m for their 28-year-old striker Robbie Blake, who has scored 13 goals this season.

The Argentinian defender, Mauricio Pellegrino, has edged closer to a move to Liverpool after beginning negotiations with Valencia to cancel the remaining five and a half months on his contract. His agent, Filippo Caradini, said that Liverpool's offer had arrived on Monday, but negotiations with Valencia still had to be concluded before it could be addressed. He said: "It is a very good offer for a 33-year-old player and Pellegrino is ready to go to Liverpool."

Tottenham made their first signings of the transfer window yesterday by bringing the youngsters Emil Hallfredsson and David Limbersky to the club. Hallfredsson has signed a two and a half year deal, having arrived from the Icelandic champions, FH Hafnarfjordur. Limbersky has joined on an initial six-month loan deal from the Czech Second Division side Viktoria Plzen.

The Scotland international Stevie Crawford completed his £80,000 transfer to Dundee United from Plymouth Argyle yesterday. The former Dunfermline forward, who failed to settle at the Championship club, has signed a three and a half year deal after rejecting interest from Hearts and Dunfermline.

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