MIDDLESBROUGH have completed the signing of the England striker Nick Barmby from Tottenham Hotspur for a club-record fee of pounds 5.25m. Last week Spurs rejected a pounds 4.5m bid from the First Division champions, but a deal was reached last night. "I believe Nick is a top-class player with great potential," the Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, said. "That is why we were willing to spend more than pounds 5m."
Spurs had been seeking pounds 6m for the Hull-born Barmby, 21, who has been determined to return to the North. He has been capped at youth, Under- 21, B and full levels, and scored nine goals in 38 Premiership appearances last season.
A previous Middlesbrough target, Andrei Kanchelskis, who moved from Manchester United to Everton for pounds 6m in the close season, may be on the brink of a surprise return to Old Trafford.
United have been presented with a demand from Shakhtyor Donetsk, Kanchelskis' previous club in Ukraine, for a sixth of the fee, and reportedly now want to cancel his move to Goodison Park. Everton had agreed to pay the Russian international winger pounds 1.2m - on top of his pounds 13,000-per-week wages - because he was entitled to 30 per cent of the fee, but the deal had not been concluded.
Alex Ferguson, the United manager, is expecting to see Kanchelskis for training tomorrow morning. "I am just delighted Andrei will be back at Manchester United," he said.
United's solicitor, Maurice Watkin, explained: "Andrei has not yet played for Everton, and he's not in a position to play for them, because he's not an Everton player. A difficult contract issue has still not been resolved, [and] we have not been able to do a deal that is satisfactory.
"We notified Everton on Friday that we want him to turn up for training with us on Monday. There is no animosity between United and Everton but, unfortunately, we have not been able to do a deal that is satisfactory to Manchester United."
Paul Walsh has joined Manchester City's collection of injured players, which has given the club's new manager, Alan Ball, further problems just two weeks from the Premiership kick-off.
Walsh hobbled out of City's 2-1 friendly defeat at Burnley yesterday with a groin strain, to add to a casualty list which also includes Uwe Rosler, Peter Beagrie, Keith Curle and the goalkeeper Tony Coton. Burnley gained a two-goal lead through Kurt Nogan and John Francis before Carl Griffiths netted a late consolation for City.
Without Alan Shearer, the Premiership champions, Blackburn Rovers, had to rely on a second-half equaliser from Chris Sutton to earn a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield. Another England Under-21 striker, Andy Booth, had given the home side a first-half lead. Kevin Gallen, Trevor Sinclair and Danny Dichio were on target for Queen's Park Rangers in a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
l Jason Young entered the record books yesterday by becoming the first player to score for Livingston. The Scottish club, formerly known as Meadowbank Thsitle, were 2-0 winners in a Coca-Cola Cup first-round tie at Montrose.
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