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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 9 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 10, 2006

Pompey encouraged to bid for wantaway James

Stuart Pearce has challenged cash-rich Portsmouth to make Manchester City an offer they cannot refuse for want-away goalkeeper David James.

James has informed Pearce of his desire to quit Eastlands, mainly due to personal reasons and has made it clear he would be interested in a move to Fratton Park.

Even the City boss has virtually accepted the 36-year-old England World Cup keeper will eventually be moving on, hence his decision to check out Rennes' Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson and second-choice Liverpool stopper Jerzy Dudek.

However, Portsmouth, backed by enthusiastic new owner Alexandre Gaydamak, have been warned James will be going nowhere unless they come up with an acceptable deal, believed to be around the £1million mark.

'David has expressed a wish to leave and I have to be prepared for that eventuality,' said Pearce.

'But the bottom line is whether the finance we are being offered is acceptable.

'Portsmouth have made one bid, which has been rejected. Unless the situation changes David will have to stay here and carry on doing what he has been doing for the last two-and-a-half years, which is keep goal very well for Manchester City.'

Although James' desire to spend more time with his fiancee, who is based in the south of England, is a major influence behind his desire for a move, so too is the potential offer of a three-year contract at Portsmouth.

Currently in the final year of his present deal at City, James knows he has no chance of getting a similar offer if he stays where he is.

The keeper spoke to his manager during the Blues recent two-match tour of China, with Pearce insisting there has been no major fall-out.

'David has been as good as gold,' said the City chief.

'I understand the reasons for him wanting to leave. He is not anti-Manchester City and he is not anti-Stuart Pearce.

'The situation might be difficult for someone whose mind was elsewhere but I don't anticipate any problems from David whether he stays or goes.'

Although Pearce acknowledges Portsmouth have been bidding for scores of players during the summer as Harry Redknapp constructs a squad capable of avoiding a prolonged relegation battle, the former England skipper knows James is likely to move on at some stage this week.

The deal is set to trigger another bout of frenzied transfer activity around Eastlands, with Pearce committed to bringing in a replacement keeper to challenge Nicky Weaver for the first-team slot.

Pearce is also hopeful of adding Ajax's talented full-back Hatem Trabelsi to his squad over the next 24 hours.

Trabelsi's talent is unquestioned but, after a series of major knee injuries, City are understandably keen to protect themselves against the prospect of the Tunisian getting injured.

'We are hoping to have some form of permanent news on Trabelsi soon,' said Pearce. 'He still has a few more medical tests to complete.'

Meanwhile, Pearce insists it would not concern him if contract rebel Sylvain Distin entered the campaign with City knowing he would be free to leave next summer.

Distin, whose present deal has one year to run, has so far declined to sign a contract extension and, like James, has been linked strongly with a move to Portsmouth.

So far though, the indications are that the French defender, replaced as City skipper by Richard Dunne this season, will be in Pearce's squad for the opening Premiership game against Chelsea on August 20.

'Until people meet our valuation of Sylvain, he will stay where he is, which will only benefit me because he is a good player,' said Pearce.

'It would be no skin off my nose if he enters the final year of his contract. I am a football manager, a year is a hell of a long time in football management.'

Isaksson's agent Roger Ljung told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet earlier today he hoped to tie up a transfer to City shortly for the goalkeeper.

He said: 'I am on my way to a meeting to negotiate. It is true that I am in Manchester now, I am sitting with plenty of people now and am just on my way to a meeting.

'We hope it will be official during the afternoon. We would not be here if we didn't think it would be sealed.'