Gaydamak targets Anelka after sealing Pompey deal

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The Independent Football

Alexandre Gaydamak completed his expected takeover of Portsmouth yesterday with the Premiership club hoping to acquire Nicolas Anelka, although there is a wrangle over the fee, and the highly rated Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes.

That would be a good chunk of the £30m transfer fund Gaydamak promised for this summer. The manager Harry Redknapp hopes also to bid £4m for Sylvain Distin, having had his attempts to sign West Bromwich's Curtis Davies and Blackburn Rovers' Ryan Nelsen rebuffed.

Distin continues to stall on a new contract at Manchester City and has also attracted interest from Middlesbrough but it appears Portsmouth are set to offer him the deal he wants. Redknapp's other main target, Stilian Petrov, remains elusive, however, with Portsmouth reluctant to meet Celtic's valuation of the midfielder which has now reached around £5m.

Having bought 50 per cent of the club in January, for £16m, Gaydamak has now fully bought out Milan Mandaric, for another £16m. Mandaric, who has been linked with a move for Wolverhampton Wanderers, will remain as non-executive chairman. He said yesterday: "I'm not walking into the sunset. I'll help Alexandre in any way I can."

Gaydamak, a 30-year-old who was born in France of Russian descent, the son of the controversial businessman Arcadi Gaydamak, has huge ambitions for the club. "What Milan has done is priceless," he said. "Milan's vision, belief, hard work and compassion has laid the foundation for all that we started to do in January."

Gaydamak is willing to plough many more millions into Portsmouth - and insists it is his own money and not his father's - having bankrolled their successful efforts to avoid relegation last season. He also has to oversee the redevelopment of Fratton Park and the construction of a new training ground but is trying to strengthen the team first.

A fee of £10m is understood to have been agreed for Fernandes, who was due to fly to England yesterday for talks. The 20-year-old Benfica midfielder, who has played for his country, is well regarded although the scale of the fee will raise eyebrows and is far higher than Portsmouth hoped to pay.

The deal to land Anelka is not so advanced. The former Arsenal striker claimed that Portsmouth had offered Fenerbahce £8.2m for him but Redknapp indicated last night that the price was too high.

"We have made enquiries and spoken to people over there but we're nowhere near a deal," he said. "He would be a good buy at the right price but the figures they are talking are beyond us." Anelka said that he was keen to rejoin "a major European league", adding: "In Portsmouth I talked with Redknapp, who knows me well. My ambition would be to join a club that plays in the Champions' League, but I cannot force them to recruit me. If I had to join Portsmouth, I would go there with the aim of giving my best. It is the same for Bolton or Blackburn, who have also contacted me." Another potential stumbling block is his wages.

Portsmouth have had a frustrating summer in the transfer market. They have acquired Glen Johnson from Chelsea on a season's loan but have missed out on a number of others. Two of their most sought-after players, Gary O'Neil and Matt Taylor, have signed new contracts but the future of the striker Lomana LuaLua remains uncertain.

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