14 August 2006

Nigeria: Kanu Set to Complete Pompey Move

Lagos — Baring any last minute hitches, Super Eagles striker Nwakwo Kanu will complete a move to Fratton Park today. In fact he may even feature in Portsmouth's last pre-season friendly this evening.

THISDAYSports reliably learnt that both the player and Fratton Park officials were locked in last minute negotiations late last night with a view of securing the services of the former Arsenal player.

Although some of the sticky points still centred around the player's personal terms, we reliably scooped that both parties have shifted ground somewhat especially with Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp showing personal interest in bringing the leggy Nigerian international to the South Coast team.

Kanu, who refused to campaign in the Coca-Cola Championships with his relegated club West Brom, had already been invited over to Fratton Park a number of times last week to meet with Redknapp, who has tried to impress on the European Cup winner his determination to build a more competitive side this campaign with the quality of his buys.

Redknapp, who has become a demi god of sorts at Fratton Park after defying the odds to save Portsmouth from relegation last season, has already brought Kanu's old Arsenal team mate Sol Campbell to the club - a sign that he means business.

Campbell, who was released last May by the Gunners could have walked into a number of more high profile teams but was lured to Pompey by the persuasive powers of Redknapp, who as West Ham boss produced such house hold names like Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole.

Portsmouth is offering the one time Inter Milan star a one year deal with the option of a further two year extension should both parties be satisfied with themselves at the end of the campaign next May.

As a sign of Redknapp's desire to have the man, who captained Nigeria to her biggest football triumph - the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold - he is even willing to through Kanu into this evenings friendly because he wants to use him in Pompey's Premiership opener against Blackburn Rovers this Saturday.

"The manager (Redknapp) has done everything possible to show Kanu that he wants him at Fratton Park. He has been in constant contact with him and assured him that he would feature prominently in the first team because he needs his experience to ensure the club us not locked in another relegation dogfight.

"In fact he (Redknapp) even told him that should they be able to reach an agreement on time he would want him to take part in this evening's friendly in spite of the fact that Kanu was yet to train with his possible team mates. This is a clear sign that he believes in Kanu's football prowess and experience," explained a source close to the negotiations.

Both parties were scheduled to meet again late last night in an effort to thrash out an agreement that would allow Kanu play today.

Sources close to the player told THISDAYSports that Kanu was keen on joining Portsmouth and would most likely be able to convince Fratton Park officials to further shift ground on some of his personal demands.

In recent times Redknapp has shown he has a soft spot for Nigerian players. It was he that gave Yakubu Aiyegbeni his first break through in England when he made a mid-season purchase of him from Israeli side Maccbi Haifa a few years ago when Portsmouth was still in the lower division.

However, after an impressive season and half campaign with Pompey, Aiyegbeni became Middlesbrough's most expensive signing when they forked out £7.5 million to bring him to the Riverside Stadium two season's ago.

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