French talk of blocking Anelka deal: Football

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The Independent Online
Arsenal's propose to sign Paris St-Germain's 17-year-old prodigy Nicolas Anelka, but the French league's president, Noel Le Graet, said last night he would try to block the transfer.

Le Graet is to appeal to Uefa over the transfer because he believes that European football's governing body is about to stop the freedom of movement of players until they are 24. "I will be recommending to the French football federation that they should stop this move going ahead," he said.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's manager, was sure the French could not prevent Anelka from taking up a contract at Highbury in June as a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

"The rules in France are that players cannot move free between clubs in their own country until they are 24 but there is no doubt that we are allowed to sign him," he explained. "We can do this six months before the end of his contract and all we need is his father's consent in writing because of the player's age. We have that and so I am not worried about what reports from France might say."

Anelka said he was not leaving for the money but for first-team football. "People don't show enough confidence in me [at PSG]," Anelka said. "At Arsenal, I've been assured that I would be on level terms with the other forwards."

Fabrizio Ravanelli has cried foul over the "Middlesbrough are doomed" comments he allegedly made in an Italian newspaper.

"I did not say anything about relegation," the striker said. "I have given an explanation to the manager and the players, but I have not apologised because I have nothing to apologise over."

Chelsea have admitted making asking Milan about the defender Paolo Maldini, but have dismissed suggestions of a pounds 17m bid for the international. "They said he was not for sale," Chelsea's managing director, Colin Hutchinson, said. "They were not even prepared to negotiate, although I must say that for pounds 17m I would have wanted the whole of Milan. No fee was ever mentioned. Our interest was very much tongue in cheek."

West Ham's unsettled striker Florin Raducioiu has returned to his former club Espanyol - a move which will allow the Hammers to bid for Celtic's Pierre van Hooijdonk. Raducioiu cost pounds 2.4m and it is believed his return to the Barcelona team will leave the Hammers pounds 1m out of pocket.

Sheffield Wednesday have been rebuffed by the Spanish striker Moises Garcia Leon, who has joined Celta Vigo instead. The Wednesday forward Mark Bright is having talks about a pounds 70,000 move to the Swiss club Sion after completing a month's loan at Millwall.

Claus Thomsen, the Ipswich midfielder and Danish international, will join Everton for pounds 900,000 today. The 26-year-old Thomsen has agreed a four-and-a-half year contract.

Coventry City's manager, Gordon Strachan, will impose some form of punishment - yet to be decided - on Dion Dublin for his double sending-off which has resulted in a seven-match ban.

Gordon Watson has become Bradford City's record signing, the centre-forward costing pounds 550,000 from Southampton.

Aberdeen will impose life bans on 12 supporters after they disrupted a minute's silence in memory of the former Rangers and Scotland captain George Young during Sunday's match at Ibrox.

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