Pompey see McCarthy bid rejected but close in on Quashie

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth have bid a club record €6m (£4.1m) for the Porto striker Benni McCarthy - but have been told that they will have to raise their offer to €9m. The Premiership strugglers are also in talks over a deal to bring Nigel Quashie back to Fratton Park.

The midfielder, who was left out of Southampton's match against Crystal Palace, officially due to a stomach bug, is also wanted by West Bromwich Albion. However, discussions to bring the 27-year-old back to Portsmouth, just 12 months after he left for £2m, are advanced. He should cost less now, with the manager, Harry Redknapp, keen to re-sign Quashie despite his bitter departure.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, have told Porto they will raise their bid for McCarthy by €1m. The deal is complicated because the Portuguese club will only receive 85 per cent of the fee with the rest due to the South African's agent.

Yesterday McCarthy, who wants to play in England but had hoped to sign for a bigger club, said he would stay. Nevertheless Portsmouth's chairman, Milan Mandaric, said: "I am very confident everything will be concluded soon." Redknapp added: "I'd love to get him but we're not there yet. He's a top, top player - big, strong and quick and a Champions' League winner."

If McCarthy does sign it would break Pompey's transfer record, which was only set this month when they bought Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari for £4.1m.

Portsmouth are also preparing another bid for John Hartson after having an initial £750,000 offer rejected by Celtic. "We are trying to go back to them with a deal," Mandaric said. "I think it's only fair they know we won't give up."

The 30-year-old has 18 months left on his contract and has said he does not want to leave. It also appears highly unlikely Celtic will sell, especially as they have accused Portsmouth as not acting "in a professional manner".

Hartson has said he would like to end his career nearer to his estranged wife and children in Wales. He grew up as a Swansea supporter and Portsmouth are also considering a move for the League One club's present striker Lee Trundle. However, it is thought they may not bid for the 29-year-old until the summer.