Van Nistelrooy signs new deal

Ruud Van Nistelrooy has committed his future to Manchester United until 2008 - and underlined the importance of keeping Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.

Ferguson's 17-year reign at Old Trafford continues to be questioned in the light of his legal fight with John Magnier over the record-breaking racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar, and Van Nistelrooy, whose £70,000-a-week deal amounts to more than £17m, said: "Sir Alex is a very important factor in this [his re-signing]. I spoke to him about it, about the future of the club and about his plans for the team. I know that with his managerial qualities there are going to be some great years to come here."

The Aston Villa manager, David O'Leary, has finally been able to strengthen his squad with the signing of the Newcastle midfielder Nolberto Solano in a £1.5m deal.

The Peruvian international, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract, has been a regular member of the side in recent weeks, starting their last eight matches. Solano became the first player from Peru to play in England when he joined from Boca Juniors for £2.7m in August 1997.

His former manager at Newcastle, Sir Bobby Robson, is set to sign the Tottenham captain Stephen Carr in a £3m deal before the deadline. Robson is waiting for permission from his board to move in for the Republic of Ireland right-back over the weekend.

Carr has yet to be offered a new deal at White Hart Lane, where his current contract has less than 18 months to run. Arsenal have also been tracking Carr, but they have little money left to spend and that leaves Newcastle confident that they can sign him over the weekend.

The Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, signed the Blackburn defender Martin Taylor last night after agreeing a £2m deal. The former England Under-21 prospect is willing to move after losing his place in the Blackburn team .

Chris Marsden, Southampton's FA Cup final captain, is moving to the South Korean side Busan Icons, where he will work with the coach, Ian Porterfield, again following his time as an apprentice at Sheffield United.

The Liverpool manager, Gérard Houllier, will not stand in the way of Paul Jones's move to Wolves. The 36-year-old Southampton goalkeeper had been on loan at Anfield and looked set to extend his stay after Saturday's Merseyside derby against Everton.

But the Wolves manager, Dave Jones, who also signed the player when he was managing Southampton, has offered him a two-and-a-half-year deal to move to Molineux in a £250,000 transfer. Wolves need special dispensation to sign Jones before the end of the transfer window on Saturday because technically he is still on loan at Anfield.

Steve Howey is joining Bolton Wanderers until the end of the season. The defender will move from Leicester after completing a medical.

Portsmouth have signed the 22-year-old Polish striker Sebastian Olszar on a short-term contract until the end of the season. The former Poland Under-21 international, who has a German passport, was previously with the Austrian club Herold Admira.

Portsmouth's move to sign the Anderlecht striker Ivica Mornar has been held up by the winter weather. The Croatian international was expected in London late on Wednesday night for a medical, but the cold snap meant Mornar was held up in Belgium.

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