Rivaldo flies back after apologising to Allardyce

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The Independent Online

The Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo has apparently changed his mind and told Bolton Wanderers he wants to join them.

The Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo has apparently changed his mind and told Bolton Wanderers he wants to join them.

The former World Footballer of the Year has decided after two months that the idea of playing in the Premiership is enticing. Rivaldo rang the manager, Sam Allardyce, at the weekend to apologise for wasting so much time and ask if Bolton still wanted to take him on.

Allardyce had written off the move despite putting a strong case for Bolton in their talks, but accepted Rivaldo's story and told him he would have to come to pre-season training first.

Now Rivaldo is heading for Bolton's base in Portugal and is due to arrive tomorrow. After so much uncertainty, Bolton will only believe it when they see the Brazilian arriving, but there is now new and unexpected hope.

Allardyce made Rivaldo his first-choice signing for next season and Bolton put a staggering offer on the table for him.

However, Rivaldo then flew off to talk to clubs in Germany, Spain and the Middle East, plus Celtic. But he has taken time out to consider his future and now realises that the Premiership is an ideal stage to recapture his best form.

Rivaldo's terms will have to be discussed and possibly reduced, but the deal looks likely as a source close to him revealed: "The main problem was the fear of letting himself down in the Premiership. He was worried about joining the wrong club and being branded a flop."

Meanwhile, Allardyce is considering bringing in a number of other players as he looks to strengthen his squad.

On Saturday, against non-League neighbours Radcliffe Borough, the Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim played for an hour and did enough to impress. He is part of the party that flew to Portugal yesterday.

Strictly speaking, Ben Haim should not have played in front of paying patrons because of work permit regulations, but the bigger worry is what he will cost from Maccabi Tel Aviv. At 22, Haim is too young to move on a free at the end of his contract, and if Allardyce is asked a reasonable fee, he will sign him.

Bolton also had St Vincent World Cup stars Samuel and Jamal Ballantyne in their side. Samuel raised his profile in the West Indies when he scored two goals to take his island into the next round of the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup.

Allardyce will make decisions on the Spanish veteran Fernando Hierro, Jordi Cruyff and Emerson in the next few days. Hierro had not wanted to play in friendly matches,but could feature against Sporting Lisbon and Setubal as he tries to prove that his legs can cope with the Premiership.

Cruyff and Emerson are also struggling to convince Allardyce that they can make a successful transition to the English game. Furthermore, the Moroccan Hassan Kachloul may be given a chance to resurrect his career at the Reebok Stadium.

Allardyce has already signed Michael Bridges and Les Ferdinand but has failed to recruit the Wolves striker Henri Camara, Porto captain Nuno Valente or the Manchester United midfielder, Nicky Butt.

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