McAteer weighs up options

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Jason McAteer will have to put his heart before his pocket today to make his dream move to Liverpool come true at a price of pounds 4.5m.

Bolton's transfer-seeking midfield player was offered lucrative terms by Blackburn Rovers yesterday in a four-hour meeting with Ray Harford and Kenny Dalglish, at which the champions' financial muscle was flexed.

McAteer headed off for talks with Liverpool last night and Arsenal today, both clubs having tabled acceptable offers as the transfer auction reaches a climax. Liverpool started the three-horse race as favourites but must now hope that McAteer follows Stan Collymore's example and puts their prestige ahead of greater wealth elsewhere.

McAteer is also a close friend of Phil Babb, his Republic of Ireland colleague, and that may help influence a choice complicated by Arsenal's late arrival on the scene.

While McAteer frets over which fortune to choose, his Bolton team-mate, Alan Stubbs, will complete his formalities in the morning. Stubbs also met the Blackburn hierarchy yesterday, and Rovers have been his preference since they made their interest known last week.