Xavier set to leave Everton and join Marseilles

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The Independent Online

Abel Xavier, who was transfer-listed by Everton yesterday after refusing a new contract, is in talks with Marseilles about about a possible move in the next few days.

The Portuguese defender can join the French club on a free transfer in the summer, but the former European champions may opt to buy him from Everton immediately. Everton are looking for around £750,000 for Xavier, but may have to settle for less.

Marseilles are also talking to the Lazio veteran, Sinisa Mihajlovic, but Xavier is hoping that they decide to sign him following his decision to turn down a lucrative three-year deal at Everton.

Manchester United have not ruled out signing Paolo Di Canio despite securing the services of the Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan. The arrival of the 22-year-old from Independiente, at a cost of £7.5m, seemed likely to have put an end to Alex Ferguson's interest in West Ham United's Italian striker, but the Manchester United chief executive, Peter Kenyon, said a deal could still happen.

"The deadline for the Champions' League is 31 January and we would obviously want any new player to be eligible for that," said Kenyon. "We have spent the past week focusing on finishing the Forlan deal so there has been no progress in terms of Di Canio."

United's offer of £1.5m for the 33-year-old Di Canio was rejected by West Ham earlier this month, but the London club's manager, Glenn Roeder, has admitted that it will be difficult to keep the Italian if he wants to leave.

The Preston manager, David Moyes, has completed a double signing as he looks to revive his club's faltering promotion hopes. Moyes has bought Dickson Etuhu from Manchester City in a deal that could rise to £600,000 and has also drafted in Las Palmas' Icelander Thordur Gudjonsson on loan until the end of the season with a view to a permanent deal.

Neither man will be eligible to play in North End's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Sheffield United on Saturday, but will be in line to make their debuts when the Lancashire side look to get their play-off challenge back on track at Bradford next Tuesday.

Derby have agreed a deal to bring the former Spanish international goalkeeper Toni Jimenez to Pride Park until the end of the season. The managerless Premiership strugglers have signed the out-of-favour Atletico Madrid player after their regular No 1, Mart Poom, was ruled out for a month with a finger injury.

The Southampton defender Francis Benali has been rewarded for his 16 seasons with the club with a one-year extension to his contract. His current deal was due to expire this summer and would have seen the 33-year-old leave the club he has served since he became an apprentice at the age of 16. But the 12-month extension means that Benali could well see out his career at St Mary's.

Walsall want the former Wolves manager Colin Lee to take over at the Bescot Stadium. Lee is coaching with Paul Jewell at Wigan Athletic, but he is about to be offered the post. Walsall sacked Ray Graydon on Monday and his assistant, Chris Nicholl, is also leaving the club. The Saddlers hope to make a quick appointment over the weekend.

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