Newcastle eye Shevchenko

The Serie A leaders are convinced they can lure the midfielder with a package of ‘110 000-a-week plus 100 percent of his off-pitch earnings.

Real Madrid take half Becks’ ’20 million annual sponsorship income but will be powerless to stop Inter approaching him from January 1 as his contract ends on June 30.

Agent Enzo Bronzetti, who is advising Inter on how to lure Becks, 30, said: “I know Beckham will come to Italy. He’s not so concerned about wages as what he earns from publicity contracts.”

Beckham is not keen on a move to America to play for LA Galaxy ‘ and Real boss Fabio Capello is now considering using him in centre midfield.

It’s up to us to make it

Reds set for ‘400m takeover deal

Liverpool are close to agreeing a ‘400 million takeover deal with the former owner of the Harlem Globetrotters.

American billionaire George Gillett is set to pip Sheik Mohammed’s Dubai International Capital in the chase to own the Kop.

Gillett will become the sixth foreign investor to buy into the Premiership, following Eggert Magnusson at West Ham, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa and Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.

Liverpool chairman David Moores and chief executive Rick Parry met Gillett recently in Montreal to thrash out terms.

Gillett has a history of investment in top American sport.

Newcastle eye Shevchenko

Newcastle are considering an audacious bid to land Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko on a five-month loan deal.

Toon boss Glenn Roeder is monitoring the striker’s situation after it was revealed the Blues would be willing to let him leave on a temporary basis in January.

Sheva’s former club AC Milan are favourites to sign the Ukrainian, 30.

But a Geordies source said: “Newcastle are thinking of making a move for Shevchenko if Chelsea are serious about letting him go on loan.

“It’s a deal which would benefit both clubs. It would help out the striker situation at Newcastle and allow the player to adjust to life in the Premiership without playing for one of Chelsea’s title rivals.”

Big cash awaits Larsson

Henrik Larsson will pick up more than ‘1 million for his 10-week loan spell at Manchester United.

The Sweden international will be paid a basic salary in excess of ‘100 000-a-week after agreeing to move to Old Trafford from Helsingborgs before the Swedish League begins in March.

His mega-deal puts him on a par with top United earners and represents the biggest weekly wage deal of the 35-year-old’s career.

O’Neal gets ’25m boost

Martin O’Neal will have his January transfer fund boosted by a ‘7,3 million legacy from former chairman Doug Ellis.

That means the Aston Villa boss will have up to ’25m at his disposal to strengthen his squad when the window opens.

The cash from a property deal done by Villa’s controversial 82-year-old outgoing owner will be on top of money budgeted by new owner Randy Lerner to help O’Neill mount a challenge for a place in Europe.

Ellis revealed: “Three months ago I sold the Serpentine Ground for ‘7,31m, and this was land originally purchased by my building company and given to Villa for just ’10 000. The settlement date on that deal is December 17 and from that day ‘7,31m will come on to the books at Villa, which is money for the new owner and manager to invest.”

Rafa’s fears over Wright-Phillips

Benitez Rafa believes Chelsea will price him out of the market for Shaun Wright-Phillips for the second time in 16 months.

The Liverpool boss would love to rescue SWP from his Stamford Bridge limbo and believed he had captured him days before Jose Mourinho made he and Manchester City an offer neither could refuse.

Wright-Phillips is now available again but not, he fears, to potential Premiership and Champions League challengers such as his own club.

West Ham are preparing a bid of around ’10 million for the winger and Benitez believes Chelsea may well be prepared to accept half of what they paid for him ‘ but would want a lot more if the bid was being made by Liverpool.

Ferguson defends Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Cristiano Ronaldo over accusations of diving.

Manchester United manager Fergie is fed up with criticism of his Portuguese star, who he sees as the victim of too much foul play.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was the latest to accuse Ronaldo, 21, after he won a penalty in United’s 2-1 win last Saturday.

He said: “There is too much diving but we do our best to curb it. You see how Ronaldo at our club has developed and improved simply because he grows up, he’s getting older and the club talked to him about it. He suffers provocation but he’s rising above it. Opponents foul him but he just gets up and gets on with it.”

Blues’ young stars will rise

Chelsea starlet Jimmy Smith (19) insists homegrown players can force their way into Jose Mourinho’s star-studded side.

The Premiership champions have been heavily criticised for buying instant success instead of developing a crop of youngsters good enough for the first team.

But Smith, currently enjoying a loan spell at Queens Park Rangers, is determined to prove the cynics wrong.

He said: “I think young players at Chelsea have as good a chance as anyone of. If you’re good enough you’ll get your opportunity ‘ it’s down to your own ability. If the manager believes in you he’ll put you in.”

December 2006
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