pounds 1.5m Platt ponders Boro move

The clear-out of Englishmen from Highbury is, it seems, continuing, as David Platt contemplates life in the Nationwide League with Middlesbrough.

Arsenal yesterday gave Platt, a former England captain, permission to negotiate personal terms for a move to the Riverside stadium. However, Arsene Wenger, the Gunners' manager, has denied claims by his Boro counterpart, Bryan Robson, that a pounds 2m deal has already been agreed between the clubs.

Robson said he had settled a pounds 1.5m fee for the 31-year-old, with Arsenal receiving a further pounds 500,000 after Platt had played a set number of games, and that Platt has only to agree personal terms now.

However, Wenger, who last month shocked Arsenal fans by selling Paul Merson to Boro for pounds 4.5m, said: "Nothing has happened yet. There is no fee agreed. There has been contact between us about David Platt, but certainly no agreement so far."

Platt said: "I became aware of Middlesbrough's interest last night and this afternoon spoke on the telephone with Bryan Robson. From the days when I cleaned his boots at Old Trafford I have always had the greatest respect for Bryan. However, I am undecided at this point in time and want to think things over for a few days before making a decision."

Robson is not worried that Platt is moving towards the end of his career. "I won lots of medals from the age of 32. There is absolutely no problem with players going on to play at the age of 35," he said. "He can also speak Italian and that will be a great help to me with explaining tactics to Fabrizio Ravanelli and Gianluca Festa."

On his way into Highbury is the 22-year-old Liberian striker, Christopher Wreh, who should complete a move from from Wenger's former club, Monaco, today. Wreh, a cousin of Milan's George Weah, has been training with the Gunners for weeks while his contract with the French club was settled. Compensation of about pounds 300,000 will be paid to Monaco.

Leicester City have made a pounds 500,000 bid for the former Everton and West Ham striker Tony Cottee, who is keen to return to England after a spell in Malaysia, and have agreed a pounds 1.1m fee with Blackburn for Graham Fenton, also a striker.

Derby County have completed the pounds 1m signing of the Portsmouth forward Deon Burton, with an extra pounds 500,000 payable depending on appearances.

Everton are talking terms with the Chilean striker Fernando Vergara, who has just spent a week on trial with Crystal Palace. Aston Villa have signed West Bromwich Albion's goalkeeper Paul Crichton on a one-month deal as cover for the injured Australian, Mark Bosnich, who pulled a hamstring in a friendly at The Hawthorns last week.

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