Overmars warms to Barcelona overtures

The Arsenal winger Marc Overmars admits he is flattered by the interest being shown in him by Barcelona and has not ruled out joining the Spanish club. Barcelona, who received £37m from the world record sale of Luis Figo to their arch-rivals Real Madrid earlier this week, have been linked with the Dutchman and his Highbury team-mate Emmanuel Petit.

The Arsenal winger Marc Overmars admits he is flattered by the interest being shown in him by Barcelona and has not ruled out joining the Spanish club. Barcelona, who received £37m from the world record sale of Luis Figo to their arch-rivals Real Madrid earlier this week, have been linked with the Dutchman and his Highbury team-mate Emmanuel Petit.

Overmars, writing on his website, said: "I'm extremely flattered by their [Barça's] interest in me and the prospect of moving to such a huge club would excite any player. For the time being I remain an Arsenal player and am due to return to pre-season training [today]."

Barcelona have confirmed Llorenc Serra Ferrer as their new coach on a one-year contract. Serra Ferrer took over the team in a caretaker capacity after the resignation of Louis van Gaal at the end of last season.

The likely absence of Overmars from the Arsenal line-up will be compounded by yesterday's news that Nwankwo Kanu - along with Chelsea's Celestine Babayaro - has been named in Nigeria's squad for the Olympics. The Arsenal manager Arsÿne Wenger said last week that Kanu would not be going to Sydney as he could miss up to five Premiership games and three Champions' League ties.

Alan Shearer is putting his neck - or at least his throat - on the line to help Newcastle United get off to a flying start next season. Shearer, 30 next month, was due to have his tonsils removed last week after suffering several bouts of illness in the past year, but has put off surgery after learning that the operation could have ruled him out for the start of the season. Now he will wait until the end of the new campaign to undergo the procedure while hoping that he does not suffer another bout of tonsilitis.

Manchester City have denied reports linking the club with the Newcastle striker Duncan Ferguson. Kevin Phillips has been sent home from Sunderland's pre-season tour of Belgium after failing to shake off a knee injury. The 27-year-old striker returned to Wearside as his side prepared for last night's friendly with Mechelen to have a scan.

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, was due to meet his German international Christian Ziege yesterday as Liverpool closed in on their latest target. The former Milan wing-back is understood to have flown back to England to hold talks with Robson following his return from the Continent after Liverpool revealed that they had finally made a £5.5m offer.

Robson, meanwhile, is set to make the French right-back Lilian Martin his next signing. The 29-year-old Marseilles defender arrived at the Riverside last night and could complete a £1.5m transfer today.

The Norwegian international Bjorn Otto Bragstad has moved to Derby County for £1.5m after more than a decade with Rosenborg. The 29-year-old centre-half has signed a four-year contract.

Coventry are offering Blackburn a player-swap deal for Lee Carsley. They are willing to include Noel Whelan in any exchange. West Bromwich Albion have completed the signing of the Bristol Rovers' striker Jason Roberts for £2m.

Leicester City will unveil their new £5m signing Ade Akinbiyi today. The 25-year-old Nigerian international has passed his medical after the Premiership side agreed a club record fee to sign him from Wolves.

The former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosevic is to join Parma from Real Zaragoza for a fee of around £16m.

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