Ginola transfer dismissed

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The Independent Online
It was Newcastle United's turn to deny a major departure yesterday after David Ginola was said by his agent to be on his way to Bobby Robson's Barcelona.

Talks have already taken place with the French winger, according to a report in the sports daily L'Equipe, with the Spanish club offering pounds 4m.

But just as Blackburn have had to pour cold water on rumours of Alan Shearer's exit and Leeds United have dampened Coventry City's hopes of taking Gary McAllister, so Newcastle had to put their supporters' minds at rest.

"It is news to us," Terry McDermott, Newcastle's assistant manager, said when informed that the former French international - a pounds 2.5m signing from Paris St-Germain 12 months ago - was considering leaving. "There has been no contact between Newcastle and Barcelona. To suggest otherwise would be untrue."

However, the agent, Oliver Godalier, was adamant that Ginola was anxious to pursue his career in Spain. "I can confirm talks have taken place and David wants to join Barcelona," he said. "He almost joined them last July but Kevin Keegan came in with a better offer."

Moving to Spain would mark a remarkable U-turn for Ginola who informed the club's fans at the end of last season that he had signed a four-year contract "We finished second this time," he added "Next time we will be first."

A reason for the change of heart may lie in the fact that his wife, Coraline, has found life on Tyneside "very different" to Paris.

Liverpool have switched their attention to the Real Betis' defender Robert Jarni after failing to land the Czech Republic schemer Patrik Berger from Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal and Newcastle are also interested in Jarni, but the Merseyside club are hoping their pounds 2.5m offer will be enough to land the 27-year-old Croat, who is rated one of the best left wing-backs in Europe.

Liverpool, who have been boosted by Mark Wright's recovery from a knee injury, also made an approach for Anderlecht's Selestane Babayaro, but were put off by the pounds 4.5m price of the 19-year-old Nigerian.

Promoted Sunderland, desperately in need of an experienced goalkeeper to keep out Premiership marksmen next season, have agreed a pounds 350,000 deal for Manchester United's Tony Coton.

Birmingham City could be back in with a chance of signing Jean-Pierre Papin after his position at Bayern Munich was further undermined yesterday by the pounds 1.7m purchase of the 28-year-old striker Ruggiero Rizzitelli from Torino.

Borussia Dortmund, the German champions, have signed the Portuguese midfielder Paulo Sousa from Juventus to replace Steffen Freund, who tore knee ligaments while playing for the Germany in Euro 96.

Francis Lee, the Mancester City chairman, is to slim down the board at the First Division club by removing seven directors and appointing David Bernstein, a wealthy clothes shop owner.

The Football Association will announce today which of the four candidates - Geoff Thompson, Sir David Hill-Wood, Dave Richards and Keith Wiseman - has won the election to succeed Sir Bert Millichip, who is retiring after 15 years as chairman.