Newcastle capture Butt in bargain £2.7m deal

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The Independent Online

Nicky Butt was cleared to leave Manchester United last night, and will sign for Newcastle United in a £2.75m deal.

Nicky Butt was cleared to leave Manchester United last night, and will sign for Newcastle United in a £2.75m deal.

Butt's departure was sealed when the clubs worked out a fee for the England international, who should fly back from America today and head for Newcastle to sort out terms.

Butt, who signed for United as a trainee in July 1991, turning professional in 1993 and has played 240 games for United, is on a high salary, so the Old Trafford club had to lower the fee to assist the move. Several Premiership teams wanted Butt but none would go for him at the initial £5m tag, although Birmingham City came close last January. However, Butt wanted a top-six side and waited for the right move.

Newcastle were also waiting to see if Arsenal's attempt to sign the Tunisian right-back Hatem Trabelsi from Ajax foundered. The move was on the brink of collapse yesterday over the player's personal demands.

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, who has added the midfielder Mathieu Flamini from Marseille and the goalkeeper Manuel Almunia from Celta Vigo to his squad this summer, said that "although there is still a chance for him [Trabelsi] we have some disagreements".

The Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, has been closely monitoring Trabelsi's efforts to extricate himself from a contract dispute at Ajax and was reportedly willing to pay the Amsterdam club's asking price of £3.5m to conclude the issue. Trabelsi, however, apparently preferred the Arsenal option, but it appears his salary and signing-on demands have proved too rich for the Premiership champions.

Manchester United and Chelsea have failed in their appeal to Portugal officials not to take Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago Mendes to the Olympics. They want the players to be with their clubs in preparation for the new season but Portugal want them on international duty in Athens.

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