Gregory moves swiftly to sign £5.6m Alpay

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa's John Gregory made a belated incursion into the big-money transfer market yesterday when he signed the Turkish international Alpay Ozalan for £5.6m. The 27-year-old Fenerbahce defender, sent off for aiming a punch at the Portugal defender Fernando Couto in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000, became available after a move to the Greek club Olympiakos collapsed.

Aston Villa's John Gregory made a belated incursion into the big-money transfer market yesterday when he signed the Turkish international Alpay Ozalan for £5.6m. The 27-year-old Fenerbahce defender, sent off for aiming a punch at the Portugal defender Fernando Couto in the quarter-finals of Euro 2000, became available after a move to the Greek club Olympiakos collapsed.

Clearly Gregory is just warming up and the Villa manager has also targeted another player to feature in the European Championship, Sweden's Euro Joachim Bjorklund. He will cost £3m from Valencia.

Yesterday Villa also offered £5m for Neil Lennon, the 29-year-old Leicester midfielder who is also wanted by his former manager now at Celtic, Martin O'Neill.

The Arsenal players Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars are wanted by the free-spending Barcelona presidential candidate Juan Gaspart. Gaspart is flying into London in a effort to gain pre-contract agreements for both Petit and Overmars in order to enhance his campaign. Gaspart is trying to emulate Real Madrid's Flornetino Perez, who signed Luis Figo from Barcelona in a similar deal and clinched the popular vote to become president. Arsenal would want £7m for Petit and £11m for Dutchman Overmars.

Another Premiership club was also busily engaged in expanding its squads at vast expense yesterday. The Sunderland manager, Peter Reid, is ready to spend £3.5m on the Argentinian Julio Arca and hopes to finalise the ambitious transfer of the talented left-footed 19-year-old today after his club, Argentinos Juniors, revealed he had flown to England. Arca, who has Italian grandparents, is in the process of gaining an EU passport.

Claus Jensen yesterday signed a five-year contract with Charlton Athletic. Alan Curbishley paid £4m for Bolton's 23-year-old Danish midfielder, almost four times the previous club record paid to Barnsley for Neil Redfearn two years ago.

Robbie Fowler has been told he will be Liverpool's captain for the start of the forthcoming season, in a rebuttal to moves by Middlesbrough to sign the England striker for £15m.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are lining up the Yugoslav striker Milan Bokanovic. Bokanovic is rated at £1m by his French club Le Havre.

The Dundee manager, Ivano Bonetti, has placed five first-team players on the transfer list as he continues rebuilding for the coming season. The Dens Park club are ready to listen to offers for Steven Boyack, Willie Miller, Barry Elliott, Hugh Robertson and Lee Sharp.

St Johnstone have completed the signing of French trialist Mohamed Sylla on a three-year deal. The 23-year-old former Le Havre and Le Mans defender has won six A caps for French Guyana and will cost nothing under the Bosman ruling.

Steve Archibald has been finally unveiled as the new owner of the Scottish First Division club Airdrie after months of battling to assume control of the club. The former Barcelona and Tottenham striker's first move was to name the former Blackburn manager, Dave Mackay, as director of football. The news came after Archibald agreed terms with liquidators KPMG over the purchase of the club and was confirmed by the shareholders.

The Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says the club are interested in signing Barcelona's Rivaldo, but the deal is dependent on the completion of Luis Figo's move from the Catalan club to Real Madrid. Galliani said a second offer for Manchester United's David Beckham had been rebuffed.

The lawyer who helped bring about the Bosman ruling has met leaders of South Africa's defeated 2006 World Cup bid team. Robin Petersen, general manager for the committee, said they will consider the advice of the Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont before deciding whether to challenge the award of the event to Germany by the world ruling body, Fifa.

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