Souness snubbed in Boumsong bid

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The Independent Football

Rangers have rejected a bid from Newcastle for their central defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, but that is unlikely to deter the manager, Graeme Souness.

Rangers have rejected a bid from Newcastle for their central defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, but that is unlikely to deter the manager, Graeme Souness.

Souness tabled a bid, believed to be around £7.5m, for the France defender. However, the Ibrox side then moved quickly to turn down the offer for Boumsong, who only joined Rangers on a free transfer from the French side, Auxerre, in the summer. Officials at the Scottish club are furious that Souness decided to go public with the bid just hours before they took on Auxerre in a crucial Uefa Cup match.

"It is not normal practice for Rangers Football Club to comment on the day of an important match and we are disappointed Newcastle United has made public its interest in acquiring our player Jean-Alain Boumsong," Rangers director of football business, Martin Bain, said.

Newcastle, who play Sporting Lisbon in the Uefa Cup tonight, are already assured progression in the competition but a point from their final match would see them top their group and provide a more straightforward draw in the last 32. However, after just two wins in their last eight matches, the side are in need of a good performance.

"We are in a results business, the results have not been good for us of late, but as a manager, you have to be an optimist," said Souness. "I believe I have got some great players at this football club and quality will always come through."

Souness has cancelled a planned Christmas party in Edinburgh. "We are in a business where we have to work over Christmas," he said. "We are also in a business which is a target for tabloid newspapers if the players are up to any mischief or doing anything wrong. We are all very much aware of that and I think it is a sensible thing to do. I am not stopping the players from going out and enjoying themselves at the right time, but I think collectively if they go out, they become too big a target, and that is something that we are all very much aware of."

Souness, who will have to do without the injured Alan Shearer, Patrick Kluivert, Nicky Butt and Stephen Carr, the suspended Lee Bowyer and the ineligible Ronny Johnsen, and may also miss Laurent Robert as well, has vowed to hang on to keeper Shay Given amid speculation that he is a target for Arsenal and Manchester United.

"Shay came to see me and was deeply concerned about what had appeared in newspapers," Souness said. "We would not like to see Shay Given go. He, in my opinion, is one of the best around."

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