Materazzi deal may be key to Ferdinand sale

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The Independent Online
THE FUTURE of the West Ham United defender Rio Ferdinand could depend on whether Marco Materazzi is prepared to leave Everton and go to Upton Park. The Italian centre-back has been given permission to talk to the Hammers after their manager, Harry Redknapp, made a a pounds 3.2m offer. If Materazzi agrees to the move, that might lead to West Ham selling the pounds 14m-rated Ferdinand to Roma.

West Ham deny they will let the England centre-half go, and insist they have not even been in contact with the Italian club. However, the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported yesterday that Ferdinand has already agreed a five-year contract. Roma would not discuss details, but the Hammers' secretary, Graham Mackrell, said: "It's just nonsense. We haven't been in negotiations with Roma. We have no intentions of selling the player and such comments are unhelpful."

A Roma spokesman said the club chairman, Franco Sensi, was preparing to travel to London for talks today or tomorrow, adding: "The deal should be finalised within a couple of days."

There was more Italian interest yesterday when the Lazio chairman, Sergio Cragnotti, arrived in London hoping to finalise a deal with Arsenal for Nicolas Anelka. According to reports, the club officials were accompanied by the 34-year-old striker Roberto Mancini, though it was unclear whether he is to be part of an exchange deal for Anelka or is talking to Chelsea about a move. Anelka, 20, is rated at pounds 20m and has told Arsenal he will not play for them again.

Lazio confirmed yesterday they had signed the Argentinian midfielders Diego Simeone and Juan Sebastian Veron. The European Cup-Winners' Cup holders also announced they had signed the Swedish forward Kennet Andersson from Bologna, the Argentinian defender Nestor Sensini from Parma and the young striker Simone Inzaghi from Piacenza.