Ridsdale: 'mercenaries' are ruining game

Leeds chairman says £50m would not buy Kewell and warns of dire consequences for clubs prepared to pay such sums
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Peter Ridsdale would not part with Harry Kewell, even if someone offered £50m for him. And in the wake of Luis Figo's recent £37.2m move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, the Leeds United chairman has said he fears for the future of the clubs willing to pay such sums, believing they are at the mercy of footballing "mercenaries".

Peter Ridsdale would not part with Harry Kewell, even if someone offered £50m for him. And in the wake of Luis Figo's recent £37.2m move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, the Leeds United chairman has said he fears for the future of the clubs willing to pay such sums, believing they are at the mercy of footballing "mercenaries".

Ridsdale's comments come less than 48 hours after the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, spoke about how British clubs cannot compete with theirEuropean counterparts because of the "obscene" amounts of money in the game.

"Many of the teams on the continent are hugely in debt, and I don't know how theyintend to finance their spending on a long-term basis," Ridsdale said. "At some point they will be called to account.

"The players you see being traded at the moment are what I call mercenaries; they come in for a period of time to this country and they go out again. One of the things we are trying to engender at Leeds is that if you grow the talent through your youth system there is a certain amount of loyalty and belonging.

"Manchester United have demonstrated that over the past seven years, and we are trying to emulate that as well. We see people such as Steve McManaman, who has now become a number, and there are question marks over whether he is available or not. I cannot believe that is good for his career.

"I am in the game with Leeds United of making sure that we build this club for the long term, because that's when the supporters and the shareholders get the benefits. As far as we are concerned all this home-grown talent that we have nurtured to get into the first XI means that we want them to stay to win trophies with Leeds United. So Harry Kewell is not for sale."

McManaman's future at Real may be in doubt following Figo's arrival, but the England midfielder said yesterday that a move back to England is not on the cards.

"All the transfer talk is just rubbish as far as I'm concerned," McManaman said, after returning to training with Real yesterday after the summer break. "It's just newspaper talk. I'm very happy here and I want to stay. I came from one big club [Liverpool] to another with the intention of winning things"

The Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich will meet the Celtic manager,Martin O'Neill, later this week to discuss a proposed one-year loan move to Parkhead. Bosnich has been pushed out of the first-team picture at Old Trafford with the arrival of Fabien Barthez in a £7.8m deal this summer.

Didier Deschamps signed a three-year contract with Valencia yesterday and admitted his game was never really suited to the Premiership. France's World Cup and Euro 2000-winning captain spent only one season at Chelsea before joining the beaten Champions' League finalists for £3.7m.

The 31-year-old said: "It was difficult for me in England, after five seasons in a team like Juventus. I think my style adapts better to the latin game, that's why I opted for Valencia."

The Newcastle midfielder Christian Bassedas will definitely miss the start of the new season after X-rays revealed he has cracked a bone in his foot.

The 27-year-old Argentinian returned from the Magpies' pre-season tour of the United States on crutches after picking up the injury in the 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew in Ohio last week.

He was immediately sent to see medical specialists, and the results of the tests have confirmed he has cracked one of the small bones in his right foot and will be out of action for up to six weeks.

The controversial former Newcastle chief executive Freddie Fletcher has severed his last remaining ties with the club after nine years.

Fletcher, the man most closely associated with the club's court battle with season-ticket holders fighting plans to move them from their seats, hasinformed the board he is standing down as a non-executive director with immediate effect.

The Newcastle United goalkeeper Lionel Perez has taken a huge drop in salary to make a shock move to Second Division Cambridge United. Perez, who has joined on a free transfer, was reputed to be earning £8,000 a week at St James' Park - around 15 timesCambridge's wage limit.

The Cambridge manager, Roy McFarland, described his acquisition as "the best signing I have ever made."

The flamboyant Frenchman became a fans' favourite during a nine-match loan spell at the Abbey Stadium towards the end of last season, when he played a major role in the club's successful battle against relegation.

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