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Soccer Rumours

Brazil's Ronaldo has been linked with a few clubs after his impressive world cup so far
Friday June 21, 2002

Is he or isn't he? The Rio Ferdinand to Old Trafford story rumbles on like a steamroller with indigestion. Leeds apparently put a clause in Rio's contract that said he would not be allowed to join another Premiership side, and after consulting Ceefax, they realised that Manchester United fitted the description to the letter. Now, The Sun say this has weed on United's cornflakes, and given the usual suspects - Milan, Inter, Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona - cause to check out the West Yorkshire Yellow Pages in their local libraries. The Mirror, meanwhile, say Leeds are demanding Rio let them know where, in the words of Basement Jaxx, his head's at.
Harry Harris, now of the Express, is having none of it, though. The move, he insists, is in the bag, with Lord Ferg poised to make a formal offer just as soon as England's World Cup bid is over. Over to you, Sir Alex.

Another Leeds star getting felt up, according to the Express and, funnily enough, its sister paper the Star, is the Guardian's very own Danny Mills. Arsene Wenger obviously thinks his guile and calmness under pressure are just the ticket to help ease Arsenal's disciplinary problems. Leeds would prefer to cut their debts by selling Gary Kelly, possibly to Sunderland, but £7m may force O'Leary's hand. Mills, meanwhile, may be glad of the attention after his current boss went public with his doubts about his right-back's, er, limitations before the World Cup.

Danny's old boss, Alan Curbishley has been impressed with the United States 20-year old left-winger, DaMarcus Beasley, and is preparing a £2m bid to bring him to Charlton from Chicago Fire. However, The Star quotes Curbishley as saying he likes to do his business early: "Most people know who they're signing before the World Cup but if the player does well it only increases the price." Instead, they reckon one of Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Birmingham or Aston Villa will win the chase for the American's signature.

Things, as ever, are far more complex on the continent. The Mirror says Jaap Stam is set to end his "Lazio nightmare" by making a £15m move to Barcelona, who, says The Mail, are also looking to sign Stam's current teammate Gaizka Mendieta and his old Valencia teammate (keep up!) Kily Gonzales, as Luis Van Gaal seeks to strengthen his wings. Whatever the truth in this tittle-tattle, Kily is certainly not off to Inter, who refused to meet Valencia's asking price, according to onefootball.com.

Oh, but we're not finished yet. Valencia are rumoured to be offering 35-year old Roberto Baggio a chance of "one last hurrah" (that's onefootball.com, not us), although the Divine Ponytail has refused to say anything about his mysterious courtiers beyond that they are in next season's Champions League.

Still in Spain, and Jesus Gil, the mad president of Atletico Madrid, has responded to Perugia's own act of wanton craziness in sacking Korean hero Ahn Jung-hwan, by telling his coach Paulo Futre to "go to Italy and start negotiations" for the opulently coiffeured slayer of Italy, though Gil may want to wait until after tomorrow's quarter-final between South Korea and Spain first.