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The numbers behind Arsenal's striker search

By ESPN Staff

City rubbish reports of £13million Richards bid

Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce has branded speculation that a deal has been done to sell Micah Richards to Chelsea as 'a blatant lie'.

Richards is believed to be at the top of Jose Mourinho's hit-list as the Chelsea manager looks to solve the champions' much-publicised defensive problems.

And Pearce woke on New Year's Day to reports that Chelsea had lodged a £13million bid for the 18-year-old, who became the youngest defender ever to appear for England during the draw with Holland in Amsterdam two months ago.

City officials denied the story immediately before the 2-1 win over Everton at Eastlands and Pearce was quick to follow up with an equally angry rejection.

'There has been speculation that a deal has been done with another club,' said Pearce. 'That is blatant lie.

'The one thing I can say is Micah is fantastically happy at this club. I want to bring players in to add to the quality players we already have.

'The main thing is he doesn't let his head get turned by what they read in the papers. Sometimes that is difficult for an 18-year-old.'

Ade Akinbiyi completed a move from Sheffield United back to Burnley for what the Lancashire club claim is an initial £650,000, less than 12 months after leaving the Clarets.

The 32-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Steve Cotterill's side, who will pay the Blades a further £100,000 in the summer. United insist that fee could rise to a final figure of £1.125million dependent on the player fulfilling various clauses.

Anthony Stokes, who scored 14 goals on loan at Bank of Scotland Premier League side Falkirk from Arsenal, is back with the north London club.

Celtic and Sunderland are admirers of Stokes, with Charlton also reportedly in the hunt.

Stokes said in the Daily Express: 'I honestly don't know where my future lies.'

Stokes leads the goalscoring charts in the SPL, and said: 'Even if I do leave the club - which looks likely now - I will always be proud of that achievement.'

Watford have made their first signing of the January transfer window with the arrival of striker Moses Ashikodi from Rangers for a nominal fee.

Ashikodi, 19, impressed during a two-week trial at Vicarage Road and has been given a two-and-a-half-year contract by the Hornets.

He began his career at Millwall, becoming the youngest player at 15 to represent the club's first team in March 2003, and then joined West Ham a year later before moving to Glasgow.

Ashikodi has represented England across all levels from under-15 to under-19 and goes straight into the squad for Saturday's FA Cup tie with Stockport.