Francis targets Palace's Coleman

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The Independent Online

The revolving portals of the transfer market continued to spin this weekend, with one door closing for Andrei Kanchelskis and Everton and another opening at Middlesbrough for Nick Barmby.

Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, finally secured the signing of the Spurs striker for a club-record fee of pounds 5.25m, after an earlier bid of pounds 4.5m was met with derision by the Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar.

"I believe Nick is a top-class player with great potential," Robson purred. "That is why we were willing to spend over pounds 5m."

And, presumably, why Robson was prepared to bite his lip and continue negotiations with Sugar until a deal for the Hull-born striker, who has been expressing a wish to return closer to his roots, was reached.

Gerry Francis may spend part of the funds raised by the deal on acquiring the Crystal Palace central defender Chris Coleman, who would command a pounds 3m-plus fee and who appears to have moved ahead of Newcastle's Darren Peacock in the Tottenham manager's priorities.

The assistant manager, Roger Cross, who was in charge of the Spurs side which won 2-0 in a pre-season friendly at Watford on Saturday while Francis was checking on Coleman in Palace's fixture with Queen's Park Rangers, said: "Peacock's name has not even been mentioned in discussions."

While the devotees of White Hart may this morning bemoan the departure of a favourite, at Old Trafford the reported grounding of the pounds 6m deal that would take the wing-heeled Kanchelskis to Goodison Park will be greeted with relief.

United are said to have called off the Ukrainian's transfer to Everton following a demand from Kanchelskis's previous club, Shakhtyor Donetsk, for one-sixth of the fee. The 26-year-old Russian international has been paraded at Goodison by Everton, who agreed to pay him pounds 1.2m, on top of wages of pounds 13,000-a-week, because he was entitled to a third of the fee.

But Alex Ferguson, the United manager who signed Kanchelskis from the Ukrainian club for pounds 650,000 in March 1991, is expecting him to report for training today. "I am just delighted Andrei will be back at Manchester United on Monday," Ferguson is reported to have said.

However, Kanchelskis insisted that he would not return to United. ''It's a very confusing situation but as far as I am concerned I'm an Everton player and I want to stay there. I just don't know what is happening at the moment.'' he said.

Maurice Watkin, United's solicitor, told BBC Radio Merseyside that negotiations with Everton had been subject to contract. "Unfortunately we've not yet been able to come to terms satisfactory to Manchester United and accordingly we've had to ask the player to return for training with the club on Monday," he said. "Until the transfer is completed he [Kanchelskis] is not in a position to play for Everton."

Ferguson's Everton counterpart, Joe Royle, yesterday dismissed reports that the transfer of Kanchelskis had stalled as "utter rubbish", and would only confirm that the club would shortly be issuing a statement.

One signing completed yesterday was that of the Derby defender, Paul Williams, by Coventry. The pounds 1m exchange deal takes the pounds 250,000-rated midfielder Sean Flynn from Highfield Road to the Baseball Ground.