Steve McManaman has opened talks with Manchester City about a last-minute transfer ahead of today's midnight deadline, as Real Madrid helped him to move out of Spain.
McManaman has been chased by the City manager, Kevin Keegan, for some time but the deal appeared destined to fail until Real cleared the way for his exit with the offer of a golden handshake.
The former Liverpool and England star should agree terms with City for £35,000 per week over three seasons. City have found the cash for his wages - and given him the chance to team up again with his friend Robbie Fowler.
McManaman had been speaking to Everton, but they pulled out of the negotiations yesterday because their owner Bill Kenwright did not feel the Liverpool-born player was keen on the transfer.
Friends of McManaman say he would have found it difficult to join his boyhood idols after his time with Liverpool and those rivalries could have hit his personal and family life.
However, Manchester City is a less fraught option and Keegan should get his man in his latest cut-price swoop, just hours after snapping up Claudio Reyna from Sunderland for £2.5m.
The uncapped Portsmouth midfielder Kevin Harper has been named in a 24-man Scotland squad for their Euro 2004 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Germany. The manager Berti Vogts has called up the former Hibernian player despite Harper's failure to win a starting role with his English Premier League club. "He is an attacking midfielder player, who can play in a number of positions," Vogts said.
Scotland play the Faroes at Hampden Park on 6 September in Group Five before the former Germany coach Vogts returns to face his native country in Dortmund four days later.
Scotland squad: N Alexander (Cardiff), R Douglas (Celtic), Gallacher (Dundee United); G Alexander (Preston), A Caldwell (Newcastle United), C Dailly (West Ham), S Pressley (Hearts), M Ross (Rangers), A Webster (Hearts), L Wilkie (Dundee); C Cameron (Wolverhampton Wanderers), P Devlin (Birmingham City), B Ferguson (Rangers), K Harper (Portsmouth), P Lambert (Celtic), J McNamara (Celtic), G Naysmith (Everton), G Rae (Dundee); S Crawford (Dunfermline Athletic), P Dickov (Leicester City), D Hutchison (West Ham), N McCann (Southampton), J McFadden (Motherwell), S Thompson (Rangers).
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