Platt in pounds 4.75m move to Arsenal

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Football

CLIVE WHITE

Arsenal supporters have never known such spendthrift days. Yesterday the club took its outlay this summer on players - just two of them - to pounds 12.25m when they beat old moneybags themselves, Blackburn, not to mention Manchester United and a few others, to the signature of the England captain, David Platt.

Having plundered the Italian market only three weeks ago when they bought the Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp from Internazionale for pounds 7.5m, this return visit for Sampdoria's Platt, at a cost of pounds 4.75m, underlined the Highbury club's firm intention to keep pace with Rovers and United in the silverware stakes.

What a change from the frugal days of George Graham, who not so long ago, it seems, balked at spending pounds 1m on a player. Ironically, this latest display of opulence came on the very day that their former manager appeared before a Association commission charged with financial irregularities.

His successor, fellow Scot Bruce Rioch, has wasted no time in breaking the Highbury pay structure that Graham held so dear - nor in bringing to the club the kind of players who are far removed from the boring image Arsenal have been tagged with for too long.

Rioch cut short a holiday in Portugal to bring to an end Platt's four- year sojourn in Italy, just as Rangers did yesterday when they completed the signing of Paul Gascoigne from Lazio. Unlike Gazza, though, Platt had been offered a two-year extension to his contract with the Genoese club, but his mind was soon made up after talking to Rioch on Sunday in Sardinia where he is on holiday.

"Arsenal made it clear that they really wanted me," Platt said. "My talks with Bruce Rioch were exceptional. We hit it off straight away. He is a great communicator with some exciting ideas on tactics and a definite view on how he sees me fitting into his plans."

The feelings are clearly mutual. "I'm delighted to sign a player of David's calibre," Rioch said. "I have admired him for a long time and through these discussions with him I have been very impressed by his knowledge, ambition and desire."

Platt started his career at Manchester United, who gave him away. Times don't change, some cynics would say, and yesterday the club which has recently dispensed with the services of Paul Ince and Mark Hughes made it known they are prepared to part with another of their better players - the unsettled Andrei Kanchelskis.

If the thinking is to use him as bait in a deal for Tottenham's pounds 5m-rated Darren Anderton, Alex Ferguson may have to think again. Last night a spokesman for the Spurs chairman, Alan Sugar, appeared to scotch the idea. "When this rumour first started before Darren Anderton left for his holidays, he met with both Alan Sugar and Gerry Francis [the manager] and told them that he wished to play for Tottenham in the coming season. On that basis it is quite clear Anderton sees his future at Spurs."

Ferguson is not about to be deterred, however. "He is a terrific young player, he's English and he would be the ideal replacement for Kanchelskis. I wouldn't expect Spurs to be keen to let him go, but every player has his price."

It remains to be seen whether Coventry have discovered what Steve Bull's is. Wolves have accepted their neighbours' pounds 1.5m bid and the 30-year-old player, who is due a testimonial next year, is considering the move. Derby have rejected a renewed offer of pounds 2.65m from Everton for defender Craig Short, but conceded that agreement was imminent.

Queen's Park Rangers have signed Simon Osborn from Reading, with Michael Meaker moving in the opposite direction. The deal is likely to yield the Berkshire club pounds 850,000 while Crystal Palace, who sold the player for pounds 90,000 only a year ago, will receive 30 per cent of the sell-on profit. Liverpool have embarked on a summer clear-out with Mark Walters offered at a knockdown pounds 250,000.

DAVID PLATT'S MOVES

1988 - Crewe to Aston Villa (pounds 200,000)

1991 - Aston Villa to Bari (pounds 5.5m)

1992 - Bari to Juventus (pounds 6.5m)

1993 - Juventus to Sampdoria (5.2m)

1995 - Sampdoria to Arsenal (4.75m)

THE SUMMER'S BIGGEST BUYS BY BRITISH CLUBS

MAY

Dean Richards

Bradford City to Wolverhampton (pounds 1.85m)

JUNE

Dennis Bergkamp

Internazionale to Arsenal (pounds 7.5m)

Warren Barton

Wimbledon to Newcastle (pounds 4m)

Les Ferdinand

QPR to Newcastle (pounds 6m)

Chris Armstrong

Crystal Palace to Tottenham (pounds 4.5m)

Mark Hughes

Manchester Utd to Chelsea (pounds 1.5m)

Gareth Southgate

Crystal Palace to Aston Villa (pounds 2.5m)

Savo Milosevic

Partizan Belgrade to Aston Villa (pounds 3.5m)

JULY

Stan Collymore

Nottingham Forest to Liverpool (pounds 8.5m)

Mark Draper

Leicester to Aston Villa (pounds 3.25m)

David Ginola

Paris St-Germain to Newcastle (pounds 2.5m)

Marques Isaias

Benfica to Coventry City (pounds 500,000)

Zeljko Kalac

Sydney United to Leicester (pounds 760,000)

Paul Gascoigne

Lazio to Rangers (pounds 4.3m)

David Platt

Sampdoria to Arsenal (pounds 4.75m)

TOTAL (all transfers): pounds 57,002,500

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