Transfer Watch: Barca beat United in pursuit of Ozil
MANCHESTER United look set to lose out to Barcelona in the race to sign the Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil after the Spanish champions agreed a fee, believed to be in the region of £8m, with Werder Bremen.
Barcelona were last night awaiting the permission of Pep Guardiola, the club's manager, to conclude a deal for the 21-year-old, who impressed in South Africa this summer. He emerged as a target after the Nou Camp hierarchy gave up on their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas.
Though Alex Ferguson had not explicitly expressed his interest in Ozil, he watched him in action in a friendly against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday and refused to deny reports he was considering making an offer.
Ozil, though, has insisted his heart has always been set on a move to Catalunya. "I have been a Barcelona fan since I was small, and it is my dream to play for them," he said. "One day, I will complete this dream."
TOTTENHAM are set to make their first signing of the summer with goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa set to arrive at White Hart Lane. The Croatian (31) will arrive as cover for first-choice Heurelho Gomes.
Dmitri Popov, the sporting director at Spartak Moscow, said: "He (Pletikosa) will arrive in London for examinations." The move gathered pace after Spartak signed Alexandr Belenov as a replacement for Pletikosa.
Spurs are understood to be joining the hunt for former Arsenal midfielder Aleksander Hleb. The Barcelona player is out of favour at Nou Camp and, after spending a spell on loan at Stuttgart last season, is set for another move.
Harry Redknapp also remains interested in several players including Craig Bellamy, Micah Richards and Ashley Young and the situation with the Villa winger will be monitored closely after the shock departure of Martin O'Neill.
Aston Villa, Manchester City, Fulham and Sevilla have already been linked with Hleb.
Liverpool's move for the Danish international Christian Poulsen moved a step closer last night after the player was excused international duty to agree terms with the Merseyside club. The 30-year-old is likely to finalise a £4m deal in the coming days. Liverpool are also close to a £2m move for Brad Jones, the Middlesbrough 'keeper, after having a second bid for the player accepted.
West Brom have signed the former England full-back Nicky Shorey from Aston Villa. Shorey (29) has signed a two-year contract, with the option of a further year, after moving for an undisclosed fee.