McManaman considering Ibrox loan deal

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The Independent Online

Rangers are making a surprise move to sign Steve McManaman on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season. The Ibrox chairman, David Murray, has instructed the agent Dennis Roache to close a deal for the out-of-favour England international.

Rangers are making a surprise move to sign Steve McManaman on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season. The Ibrox chairman, David Murray, has instructed the agent Dennis Roache to close a deal for the out-of-favour England international.

McManaman has been out of favour in Madrid since their signing of the Portuguese winger Luis Figo and he has consistently rejected all attempts to sell him since. But Rangers hope he will see a move to Ibrox as the best way of keeping his career moving forward and getting the first-team games under his belt in order to win back his place in the England team.

Rangers are one of the few clubs in Britain who could pick up the tab for McManaman's £60,000-a-week wages, a total cost in salary alone of £1.5m for the remainder of the season. The club's coach, Dick Advocaat, is looking to shake up his stars after labelling them "big heads" following their 2-1 defeat at St Johnstone on Sunday and the arrival of McManaman would force one or two of his team to look over their shoulders. Murray has one eye on the financial side of the deal as Rangers face two make-or-break matches in the Champions' League, starting with tonight's meeting with Sturm Graz. Should they fail to qualify for the second stage, the deal could be in jeopardy. McManaman knows about the Rangers interest and is thinking over the proposal.

Meanwhile, two Rangers players are the subject of interest from Premiership clubs, with Chelsea targeting Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Coventry still on the trail of Neil McCann.

Manchester City have completed the signing of the versatile French defender Laurent Charvet from Newcastle for £1m. The 27-year-old, whose cost could rise by another £500,000 depending on appearances, has agreed a three-and-a-half year contract and could make his debut for City at Arsenal on Saturday.

Charvet will add to the defensive options at the Maine Road club, and the City manager, Joe Royle, said: "We are delighted to have him. He's strong, quick and very experienced. He'll be a valuable asset to our Premiership squad."

The Denmark international Jesper Gronkjaer is reportedly on the verge of signing for Chelsea in a £7.5m deal from Ajax. The 23-year-old winger is expected to sign in the next few days despite still needing to finalise personal terms and pass his medical following talks with the Chelsea managing director, Colin Hutchinson.

John Aldridge has swooped to sign the Newcastle United midfielder Des Hamilton for his injury-hit Tranmere Rovers. The powerful former England Under-21 international has signed on loan in time to make his debut for Rovers at Blackburn tonight.

The German Football Federation's vice-president, Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, said yesterday there was no truth in the former Bundesliga player Jimmy Hartwig's allegations that many German professionals took recreational drugs.

"I regard these allegations as wrong," said Mayer-Vorfelder, who is set to become president next year. "They can't be true because of all the random tests taking place during training." Hartwig's comments were published shortly after Christoph Daum, who was to become Germany's coach next year, tested positive for drugs.

Prosecutors in Cologne, meanwhile, were investigating Daum on suspicion of acquiring and possessing drugs, but noted that drug use alone was not punishable. Daum, who had volunteered to take dope tests to clear his name after allegations about his private life, said he hoped a second test would prove his innocence.

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