Fulham in fight for Crouch with Milan

West London club in bold bid to sign £15m Portsmouth striker amid Milan interest
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The Independent Online

Fulham have signalled that they would be ready to match Peter Crouch's £70,000-a-week wages but there is also interest in the Portsmouth forward from Milan in Serie A.

The England striker is facing the seventh move of his career as the proposed takeover of Portsmouth by the United Arab Emirates property developer Sulaiman al-Fahim appears to stall. With Glen Johnson already departed to Liverpool and the club under pressure to get the big earners off the payroll, Crouch is valued by Pompey at around £15m.

The stumbling block has been the four-year contract worth £70,000 a week that he signed under very different circumstances at Fratton Park last summer. However, there is serious interest from Fulham and Sunderland and the possibility that Aston Villa and Tottenham could also be interested, provided both clubs sell players during the summer.

Milan have also registered an interest in Crouch after it appears that, for a second successive summer, they are unlikely to be able to do a deal for Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor. There is genuine interest from the Milan coach Leonardo – and Crouch has been the subject of attention from Italian clubs before – but the transfer fee and the player's wages are likely to be a major obstacle to any deal.

Fulham's seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season means they have a place in the Europa League – formerly the Uefa Cup – and can be more flexible on wages than before. Their striking options include Andy Johnson, Bobby Zamora, Eric Nevland and Diomansy Kamara, as well as Eddie Johnson, who is likely to leave this summer. Andy Johnson and Zamora managed nine Premier League goals between them last season; two fewer than Crouch scored for Portsmouth.

There is unease at Portsmouth about the chances of Fahim's takeover being successful and the willingness with which the club allowed Johnson and Sean Davis to leave in recent weeks. The defenders Sol Campbell and Hermann Hreidarsson have been offered new deals to stay in what is regarded as a cut-price attempt to try to keep the squad together. David James will have to consider his future if, 11 months from a World Cup finals, he finds himself at a struggling club.

Campbell, 34, is out of contract at Portsmouth and declared that he would listen to offers from elsewhere first. Campbell said: "Portsmouth have to organise themselves and there's a lot of things happening there. I want to make the right choice. In the next two to three years I want to be in the right situation.

"The chairman, the manager and people like that, I like them to be really close together to move the club on. At the moment with Portsmouth it just seems there're a lot of things in the background. It may resolve itself, I don't know, but for me, as a player, I want to be in the right environment. For at least the next two years, the right environment to be successful."

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