Villa may part with Lamptey

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The Independent Online
The Aston Villa striker, Nii Lamptey, faces the prospect of being told to leave the country at the end of the season because of a dispute about his transfer.

The Ghanaian youngster signed for Villa from the Belgian club, Anderlecht, last summer and has made a handful of first-team appearances in the Premiership and Coca-Cola Cup.

However, the Department of Employment has received information that Lamptey is only at Villa temporarily, rather than permanently as required under work permit regulations.

Lamptey's deal was reportedly costing Villa over £1m, but the Football Association has now discovered he is only in the country on loan until April. The Belgian FA has confirmed that Villa paid just £200,000 to Anderlecht. Villa will only decide whether to pay the next instalment in April. Even if they buy Lamptey, they are unlikely to be given a new work permit.

The DoE is investigating the case. Its spokesman said: "We are in regular contact with the FA to ensure that our criteria are met. We can't revoke a work permit, but we do review them on an annual basis."

Gordon Taylor, the Professional Football Association's chief executive, sat on the panel that discussed Villa's work-permit application. He said: "Information has come to light that the DoE is concerned that some transfers that appeared to be big-money [permanent] deals have now been seen to be temporary."

n Celtic yesterday completed the signing of the 6ft 5in striker, Pierre van Hooijdonk, from the Dutch First Division club, NAC Breda. Recently capped by the Netherlands, the 25-year-old van Hooijdonk has scored 114 goals in 182 senior games in his nativecountry.