Strachan out to sign Real's Gravesen

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The Independent Online

The Celtic manager Gordon Strachan yesterday confirmed that he wants to sign Real Madrid's Thomas Gravesen if the Dane's salary can be agreed. He added that Aston Villa's attempt to sign Stilian Petrov has not succeeded.

Real are seeking around £2m for Gravesen, 30. "We have lost some huge personalities over the past six months and we need to get good personalities and players," Strachan said. "There would have to be some homework done [on Gravesen's wages] and we would like to try to keep him in the structure we have."

Celtic are also trying to buy Daniel Ljuboja, a striker from VfB Stuttgart, and Lee Naylor, the Wolves full-back.

Strachan said he had talked to his predecessor Martin O'Neill, now Villa's manager, about Petrov. "Things have not changed one iota," Strachan said. "Stan Petrov is still here and hopefully will be playing for a long time here."

Celtic travel to Inverness Caledonian Thistle tomorrow. The weekend's standout game is this afternoon's meeting between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox. Paul Le Guen is not yet under too much pressure despite Rangers drawing two and winning one of his first three games, but a stern test is expected in this match.

Hearts' preparations were overshadowed by an outburst from their Lithuanian owner, Vladimir Romanov. He answered claims made by Lee Johnson, who played for Hearts last season, that Valdas Ivanauskas, the coach, is little more than a puppet.

"It is good when the enemies and the jealous call my subordinates puppets," Romanov said. "It would be bad if some day I become the puppet in the hands of my own subordinates. When I was on duty on the nuclear submarine K19, I was proud of being a puppet in the hands of my commander. Before every match against the Glasgow teams, the Glasgow media puppets will attempt to disgrace our club. Because of this we enjoy every victory against them even more."

Of Johnson, he said: "As a footballer he has no value."

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