United's denial over Vieira

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have denied Arsenal's accusations that they made an illegal approach for the Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira.

Peter Kenyon, United's chief executive, confirmed that he did ring David Dein, the Arsenal vice-chairman, to ask about Vieira's availability, but denied any wrong-doing. Kenyon insists that United did not approach the French international without Arsenal's permission.

"I did speak to Arsenal and that was as far as it went," he said. "We made it quite clear we were interested if the player were available. I approached the club and that was the correct procedure."

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, had claimed that United approached Vieira without permission, which would have been against Premier League rules. The Gunners do not intend to pursue the matter, but Wenger's accusation will do little to help the strained relations between the rivals.

The Japan international midfielder Junichi Inamoto is set to complete his move to Arsenal early next week. If the Gamba Osaka player does join it will take Wenger's summer signings to five after the signing of Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Francis Jeffers and Richard Wright.

Aston Villa have completed the signing of the Swedish defender Olof Mellberg from Racing Santander for a fee of around £5m. The 23-year-old international has signed a five-year contract at Villa Park.

"We're delighted to secure one of the best young centre-halves in the world, especially as we've beaten some of the top clubs in Europe to his signature," Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, said.

Wolves have failed in a £2m offer for Paul Merson, who has been appointed captain of Villa. Jez Moxey, the Molineux club's chief executive, said they "remain interested" in the Preston striker Jon Macken, despite having had a £3.75m offer rejected. Ryan Green, Wolves' Welsh international defender, has joined Bristol Rovers on trial.

The Dutch goalkeeper Mikael Aerts has seen his move to Wolves called off because he refused to take a drugs test. The £800,000-rated Den Bosch player, who flew home yesterday, was banned for a year three seasons ago after he failed a drugs test in the Netherlands and was suspended by the Dutch FA.

Wolves have been told by Real Oviedo, Stan Collymore's last club before he announced his retirement, that they will have to pay £600,000 for the player's registration.