Saha fury as Fulham ruin 'chance of my life' lifetime'

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The Independent Football

The Fulham striker Louis Saha is "disgusted" by the club's refusal to sell him to Manchester United, according to quotes attributed to the striker in the French press.

The owner of Fulham, Mohamed Al Fayed, yesterday claimed he was "fed up" with the attempts by United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to prise the 25-year-old away from the London club, while the Cottagers' manager, Chris Coleman, said he would not be "bullied" into selling the player.

But Saha is quoted in yesterday's edition of the sports daily L'Equipe as saying: "I was told they didn't want to let me go. I'm really disgusted, stunned. A transfer to Manchester was a good deal for everyone.

"United offered £8m, which was excellent for Fulham. I am not Ronaldo! And this was a good opportunity for me to join one the greatest clubs in the world. It was the chance of my life. It is obvious that Manchester will not try to get me again in six months' time, because they will have found another striker by then. I really don't understand the chairman's [Fayed] opinion. I gave a lot to Fulham, they could have done me that favour."

Saha has scored 14 goals this season but Fayed insists that the squad must be kept together as the Cottagers aim to gain European football next term.

Meanwhile, Fulham have been ordered to pay Lyon a final balance of £3.2m for the transfer of Steve Marlet by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

The Cottagers were told yesterday they must clear the balance remaining from Marlet's £11.5m move from the French club after the court dismissed their challenge to the deicision made by the decision by the executive committee of world football's governing body, Fifa.

The final payment was originally due on 14 December, but Fulham withheld it because they were unhappy with the role the Barcelona-based agents Sebastien and Pascal Boisseau played in negotiations. However, the arbitration panel concluded that all aspects of the transaction were in compliance with Fifa regulations. They revealed yesterday: "Lyon are entitled to the full payment of the transfer fee. None of Fulham's contentions survive the panel's analysis."

The decision was announced on Lyon's official website. The Barclaycard Premiership club have also been ordered to pay the arbitration costs and expenses.

Marlet, who will be 30 on Saturday, moved from Lyon in August 2001 on a five-year contract with built-in pay rises. He joined Marseille on loan in August and is due to play for the French outfit for the remainder of the current season.

Chelsea appear unlikely to sign the Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech in the near future, after the player's club, Rennes, yesterday turned down the Blues' bid.

Interest from Stamford Bridge in the 21-year-old Cech has come on the back of some stirring performances for his club and country over the past 18 months. Cech is contracted to Rennes until June 2006, and his club are apparently not prepared to let him leave until this summer at the earliest.

"We received Chelsea's offer regarding the transfer of Rennes goalkeeper Petr Cech on Monday 5 January, in the late evening," said a club statement, which did not disclose what sum Chelsea had bid.

"But Stade Rennais FC have refused that offer and informed Chelsea officially that Petr Cech will remain in Rennes until the end of the season."

The rebuttal may not mark the end of Chelsea's interest in the young shot-stopper, who is also reportedly being pursued by Real Madrid and Internazionale .

Even though Chelsea's Italian goalkeeper, Carlo Cudicini, is rated among the finest in the Premiership, it seems to have become unofficial club policy since the Roman Abramovich takeover in the summer to have at least two high-quality players per position.