Walker makes Arsenal wait

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The Independent Online

Jack Walker, whose millions have propelled Blackburn Rovers to the forefront of the English game, does not want pounds 3m of Arsenal's money in exchange for Tim Sherwood, at least for the moment.

He has blocked the London club's move for the midfield player while Rovers wait for Alan Shearer to commit his future to the club or for the manager, Ray Harford, to sign a new player. Walker stepped in lest the sale should hit Blackburn's morale and season ticket sales. Harford, who has yet to make any close-season signings, would sell Sherwood, who has a house near London and eventually wants to move back there. As far as signings go, he has Middlesbrough's Nick Barmby as his top priority, although Rovers are also looking abroad.

Shearer is also keen to see Rovers sign new players after a disappointing season, before he makes a public commitment to the club, which wants to put behind them the unsettling effect of Manchester United's bids for the England striker, and rival interest in him.

Arsenal are prepared to wait for Sherwood and will give Blackburn a fortnight to free the player or they will look elsewhere after a frustrating summer.

The Fiorentina striker Gabriel Batistuta, who in May helped his club to the Italian Cup - their first trophy in 21 years - said he had no plans to become a coach and would rather return to Argentina. "At 30 or 31, I'll call it quits," the 27-year-old said, dismissing the football world as "a jungle". "I could only go on if I thought I was still on top form physically... I'll go back to Argentina when I can't take any more."

Batistuta, who this year equalled Diego Maradona's record of 34 goals for his country, is committed to Fiorentina.