The planned pounds 6.7m transfer of Parma's Colombian striker, Faustino Asprilla, to the Premiership leaders, Newcastle United, appears to have fallen through.
The Parma chairman, Giorgio Pedraneschi, said a halt was called yesterday morning when officials of the two clubs met in Milan. "Newcastle continue to maintain that there are problems with Asprilla's knee and so they want a big cut in the price," he said. "We have medical reports which tell us the opposite and as a result it was not possible to reach any sort of agreement."
Pedraneschi said Parma were now considering whether to seek arbitration from Fifa, the sport's world governing body. "We will decide that in the next few days," Pedraneschi said. "If we do that, it will be above all to protect ourselves and so that everyone knows that the contract is valid and that the player is healthy."
Newcastle have said little about the talks since their interest in the 26-year-old player emerged two weeks ago. The club's chairman, Sir John Hall, said last Thursday that the club had not abandoned their bid, but he added: "There are still a number of matters to be resolved to our satisfaction."
Asprilla joined Parma in 1992 and has scored 25 goals in 84 Serie A matches, though he has played only six games this season, most recently in the club's 4-0 win against Cagliari on 14 January when he came on as a second- half substitute.
Asprilla yesterday watched Parma's 1-0 win over Sampdoria from the stands. He said: "I'm still tempted by Newcastle's offer but, seeing how things have gone, I'm quite happy to stay at Parma."
Pedraneschi said Asprilla would be available for training from tomorrow. The Parma coach, Nevio Scala, said: "If Faustino stays, and that now looks probable, he can help us try to win the league."
Asprilla, who underwent a medical while in Tyneside, conceded in a Colombian radio interview that Newcastle were concerned about a previous knee injury and that team officials wanted him to undergo tests "to see if the knee is the same or has got worse".