Birmingham poised to bid for Bowyer

Alan Nixon
Friday 03 January 2003 01:00
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Birmingham City are trying to sign Leeds United's Lee Bowyer in a short-term deal for the rest of the season. The manager of the St Andrew's club, Steve Bruce, wants to talk to the combative midfielder about joining his side for six months on a substantial wage, and with a large bonus should the Blues avoid relegation.

A reported £32,000-per-week five-year deal has been on the table for Bowyer at Leeds for a year now, and the Elland Road club would be willing to accept a fee as low as £1m for the midfielder now rather than wait for him to walk away for nothing when his contract runs out at the end of the season.

Birmingham have made the first move, although several other clubs are monitoring the situation and also considering the idea of having Bowyer, 26 today, for a brief spell. Bowyer and his advisers are still to be convinced by the idea of moving now, but could be prepared to discuss the idea if they are given permission.

Sources close to Bowyer, a Liverpool target last summer, suggest he would prefer to join a London club on a short-term basis, with Tottenham a possibility and West Ham too, although their perilous League position may put him off.

The Leeds manager, Terry Venables, who made it clear this week he would like to keep all the members of his squad, said yesterday: "The ball is in Bowyer's court. Everybody knows his contract is up at the end of the season, and it's his right to do what he wants.

"We have to respect that, so it's up to him now and whatever he decides. But at the moment he has not given any indication as to what he wants to do."

Bowyer has recently been out with an ankle injury, only returning to light training yesterday. In his absence Leeds have won four and drawn one of their last five matches.

Birmingham yesterday completed the signing of the former French international striker Christophe Dugarry on loan and hope to include him in their side to play Fulham at Loftus Road in the FA Cup on Sunday.

"Christophe has given up two and a half years of his contract at Bordeaux, where he is king of Bordeaux, to join us at Birmingham," Bruce said. "He has given up everything to play for Birmingham in the Premiership. He has played in Italy and Spain and it was his ambition to play in England."

Dugarry made 55 appearances for France, scoring eight goals. This season he has only appeared in 13 games for Bordeaux and failed to score.

Fulham have made an audacious attempt to sign West Ham's French striker Frédéric Kanouté. The Fulham manager, Jean Tigana, is willing to pay about £5m for him or offer players in exchange.

Tigana tried to buy Kanouté for double that fee 18 months ago but is more hopeful of success this time round. He is also interested in Ipswich's Marcus Bent, whom he values at around £1.5m.

Everton have agreed loan deals for the United States striker Brian McBride and the Egyptian defender Ibrahim Said, subject to work permits.

Said, 23, from Al Ahly, is on loan until the end of the season while the American World Cup striker Brian McBride has agreed a three-month loan deal that will enable him to return to Columbus Crew in the summer.

The Marseilles midfielder Djamel Belmadi is joining Manchester City on loan until the end of the season.

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